a complete/total surprise to all of us

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jesusguime

Banned
Chinese
That she was a supermodel in her youth is a complete surprise to all of us.


Hi,
Is "complete" in the above optional? If not, does it equal "total?" Thanks.
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    It is optional as any adjective is optional.

    If you look up "total," you will find that complete is twice listed there:
    1 entire, full, total
    constituting the full quantity or extent; complete; "an entire town devastated by an earthquake"; "gave full attention"; "a total failure"

    2 full, total
    complete in extent or degree and in every particular; "a full game"; "a total eclipse"; "a total disaster"
    (my underlining)
     

    JJohnson

    Senior Member
    Texan English
    Complete surprise is correct. Total surprise is incorrect, but "total" has been the trendy word for several years now, so you will hear it as a substitute in many instances.

    Complete is uncountable; a quantity, an amount
    Total is countable; a sum, a number
     

    baldpate

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Complete is uncountable; a quantity, an amount
    Total is countable; a sum, a number
    I don't really understand this. You may be right that "total" is undergoing a fashionable revival (I don't know about this) but I think its adjectival use with the same meaning as "complete" goes back a long way.

    To help us understand the distinction you have in mind, perhaps you could give an example where "total" would be correct as and adjective, yet "complete would be wrong?
     
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