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stackexchange.com:
(1) Have you got a surprise coming!
I don't understand what (1) means.

To simplify it, let's rewrite it this way:
(2) You have a surprise coming.

Does (2) mean (3) or (4)?:
(3) You have a surprise for somebody.
(4) Somebody has a surprise for you.

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    When someone has a surprise coming, or a disappointment coming, or a treat in store, it's always coming / in store for them. They're not planning to surprise, disappoint, or treat you - but usually they're not planning anything (they don't know what's going to happen to them). Jul 30, 2023 at 3:05
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    @FumbleFingers I think you're right about the OP's case with "coming", but to have something "in store" can also be used about the person who's planning it: "...she gaily took his arm and said that she had a surprise in store for him..."
    – gotube
    Jul 30, 2023 at 3:57
  • @gotube: You're quite right, and actually the same applies with 'coming'. But in both your example and mine, the context couldn't be clearer. Firstly, because the (female) person actually says they have a surprise "pending", and secondly because both examples include for him. Even if the "surpriser" didn't explicitly announce the impending surprise (and you can hardly surprise yourself in such contexts), if there was no for- clause, i would never expect the subject to be the "surprisee". Jul 30, 2023 at 10:17
  • @FumbleFingers As far as I understood you, "X has a surprise coming" usually means "a surprise for X" but in a specific context can mean "X's surprise for someone else". If we remove "coming", does "X has a surprise" also mean these two meanings? Thanks.
    – Loviii
    Jul 31, 2023 at 7:04
  • "X has a surprise" doesn't really mean anything to me unless it's followed by "coming, instore,..." and/or "for Y". Context is everything. Jul 31, 2023 at 10:33

1 Answer 1

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It means that someone else has a surprise planned for you. The surprise is coming to you. It is not that you are planning a surprise for someone else.

"Coming" means "toward the person or place under discussion". If I said, "Bob is coming to America", that means that Bob is presently somewhere other than America but that he plans to arrive in America. If I wanted to say that he was leaving America, I would say, "Bob is going from America."

So "you have a surprise coming" means that the surprise is coming to you, not going from you to someone else.

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  • Sorry, I couldn't understand your explanation. In your example "Bob is coming to America" there is "to America" after "coming", which does the sense understandable. But in "You have a surprise coming" there is nothing after "coming" so unfortunately the analogy doesn't work because it's not written to whom a surprise comes.
    – Loviii
    Jul 31, 2023 at 7:46
  • Sorry, I was trying to add clarity and maybe I just made it more confusing. "Coming" in general implies coming "to here", wherever we are. We sometimes add a "to PLACE" to say how specific the place is. Like do I mean, "to this building", "to this country", "to this planet", or exactly what? But if we are, say, in the United States, I would NOT say, "Bob is coming to France." I would say "Bob is going to France."
    – Jay
    Jul 31, 2023 at 23:25

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