Let us suppose I asked my friend to do something (e.g. buy me a drink.) However, when I saw what he did in response, I was negatively surprised (e.g. because he brought me a drink that I don't like, etc.). I would like to describe this in a sentence such as the following:

The drink bought by my friend gave me an unpleasant surprise.


The drink bought by my friend resulted in an unpleasant surprise.

Both these versions are cumbersome. How can I better express this intention?

  • 2
    It's still not entirely clear what the unpleasant suprise consists of. Is the surprise a deliberate action on the part of your friend? (Some sort of prank.) Is the surprise due to interaction with other factors your friend was unaware of? (Allergies to the specific drink.) Different reasons for the surprise would mean different ways of expressing it. (I will note at this point that it's not going to be easy to come up with a single sentence that expresses the idea you're trying to convey.) Aug 19, 2014 at 16:38
  • 1
    The O.P. seems to think that if I said, "My friend bought me a drink; that was a surprise," that would imply some kind of positive surprise. Many synonyms for surprise seem to have positive connotations. There may not be an English word that connotes "unpleasant surprise," but that doesn't make this a bad question. How might you know for sure if you don't ask? I agree, though, that the "buying a drink" example could probably be improved.
    – J.R.
    Aug 19, 2014 at 22:15
  • Fall guy is a unpleasant surprise.
    – user33028
    Apr 19, 2016 at 2:31

2 Answers 2


In OP's exact context, a better phrasing is...

"The drink bought by my friend was an unpleasant surprise"

That's if we assume OP (or his friend) experienced the "unpleasant surprise" immediately upon seeing or tasting the drink. If it was, say, some kind of powerful delayed-action emetic that had no apparent effect until several hours later (when it caused sudden unexpected projectile vomiting or worse), you might perhaps say the drink "led to/caused an unpleasant surprise". But that's a highly contrived context.

Note that bought is past tense buy = purchase, so OP's phrasing is ambiguous in that we don't know who the drink was brought for (or by implication, who got the unpleasant surprise). More natural phrasing (optionally using the past tense of bring = carry/give [to someone]) would be...

"The drink my friend brought/bought me was an unpleasant surprise"

  • Thank you. This indeed captures my intention. I learned now that the correct verb to use with "surprise" (in my context) is "be". Aug 20, 2014 at 4:51

May be " a bolt from the blue "


  • 1
    Could you please give a little more explanation as to why it may be this?
    – Chenmunka
    Jul 24, 2018 at 17:22

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