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    #1

    surprise vs surprising

    Consider this example:
    "It's surprising that the surprise attack failed"

    Here both "surprise" and "surprising" are adjectives. So is there any difference in meaning as well as grammar between the two? Can I switch them for one another?

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: surprise vs surprising

    'Surprise' is not an adjective. It normally functions as a noun or verb.

    A 'surprise attack' is an attack that was a surprise, just as a 'celebration dinner' is a dinner that was a celebration and a 'garden shed' is a shed in the garden.

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    #3

    Re: surprise vs surprising

    Quote Originally Posted by vkhu View Post
    Consider this example:
    "It's surprising that the surprise attack failed"

    Here both "surprise" and "surprising" are adjectives. So is there any difference in meaning as well as grammar between the two? Can I switch them for one another?
    [AmE - not a teacher]

    "The surprising attack failed" is grammatical, but most people would "correct" it as "surprise attack" because of how often those 2 words are collocated.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: surprise vs surprising

    "Surprise" is commonly used in the US as an adjective.
    A surprise party, a suprise attack, a surprise inspection, a suprise announcement. It would mean that there is no notice (in the case of the party, no notice to the person having the birthday, not the guests, of course).

    When you mean "unexpectdd" use "surprising."
    When you mean "no prior notice" use "surprise."

    I can know that results of a study are being released. The fact that the results were released today was not a surprise. However, I may find the results surprising.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: surprise vs surprising

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    "Surprise" is commonly used in the US as an adjective.
    A surprise party, a suprise attack, a surprise inspection, a suprise announcement.
    I regard those expressions as noun+noun compounds, similar to tonic water, clothes shop, an airforce officer, etc.

    Still, it doesn't really matter how we label these things, so long as we understand them.

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