surprised to hear v.s. surprised at hearing

Discussion in 'English Only' started by prime123, Oct 19, 2007.

  1. prime123 Member

    Japan Japanese
    Hello, members.

    I'd like to know the difference between "surprised to hear" and "surprised at hearing" if there's any at all.

    1. My uncle was surprised to hear the news.

    2. My uncle was surprised at hearing the news.

    Thanks for your time and help.
  2. WritingAPuppy Senior Member

    canada mandarin
    my 2 cents:

    No 1 sounds better to me.
  3. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Sentence 1 says why he was surprised. Sentence 2 can be the same thing, or it could be saying when he was surprised or what he was surprised at. The event of hearing the news is at the same time the occasion of his surprise, the cause of his surprise, and the thing that surprised him, so the two sentences are practically synonymous.

    If at in sentence 2 means upon, the meaning is that he became surprised at the moment he heard the news.
  4. Joobs Banned

    In a house
    Glasgow, Scotland - English
    1. Is a bit ambiguous it could mean that it wasn't the news that actually surprised him merely the fact that he had heard it at all. (Maybe he had thought his hearing aid was broken.)

    2. Suggests that it was the "actual news", that he heard, which caused his surprise.
  5. prime123 Member

    Japan Japanese
    Thank you for your responses.
    My first guess was exactly the same as Forero's answer.
    I like Joobs' answer, too, which made me laugh!
    Thanks again.

Share This Page