I was surprised at hearing/to hear/hearing

Nohism

New Member
Arabic - Egyptian
I was very surprised to hear that she didn't pass the exam.

Why can't I say "I was very surprised at hearing that she didn't pass the exam", and why can't I say "I was very surprised hearing that she didn't pass the exam".

I need a logical explanation, please.

Thanks
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Given the three choices on an exam, I would always pick the first one (to hear). But I've certainly heard the other two in conversation and neither would raise an eyebrow. As always, it depends on the context in which you plan on using the sentences.
     

    SDLX Master

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Peru
    Not only Copy~ is right, but you are skipping one key issue, languages work under structures and if you don't follow them, chances are an eyebow is the best you can get.
     

    Nohism

    New Member
    Arabic - Egyptian
    Thank you for your replies.

    It is just that my students have asked that question, and all I was able to say is that the way it should be. And then they asked me for a logical explanation ... I've been looking for one and trying to answer them, but it has been really difficult.

    Noha
     

    Snigdha

    New Member
    english&kannada
    This question appears on a Toefl paper as well and if I don't know the logic behind these answers, I will loose my score :)
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    why can't I say "I was very surprised hearing that she didn't pass the exam".
    Technically, this structure indicates that you were surprised WHILE you were hearing this news. This isn't exactly what the other two sentences mean. The news surprised you and you probably still find it surprising that that could have happened. You didn't stop being surprised as soon as you stopped hearing the sound of the words "She didn't pass the exam."
     

    EdisonBhola

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Is the following rationale correct?

    1) surprised to do something = surprised at doing something (both correct and interchangeable)
    2) surprised at + noun (e.g. surprised at the news)
    3) surprised by + noun (e.g. surprised by the news)
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    Hi Edison, Given that it's a revived thread, it would be best if you give us your new context, and explain why you feel it's related to this post. Take care, perpend
     

    EdisonBhola

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Let's say someone told me bad news, and I was surprised.

    I guess I could say all of the following with virtually no difference in meaning:
    1) I was surprised to hear the bad news.
    2) I was surprised at hearing the bad news.
    3) I was surprised at the bad news.
    4) I was surprised by the bad news.

    Am I right?
     
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