I am confused in using the noun 'surprise':

"If I tell you the truth, you'll be surprised" AND
"If I tell you the truth, you'll get surprised."

Do we use 'be surprised' and 'get surprised' in specific cases or they are the same?

Thank You.

  • 1
    Nice question. The only thing I can think of here is 'be' is used when the surprise has come unbeknownst to the person. 'get' is a very little bit 'expected'. But not sure at all! :)
    – Maulik V
    Jan 2, 2015 at 9:41
  • Suppose your kid studied well and her teacher tells you that she stood first, you'll get surprised (a little bit expected) but then, if the teacher says 'she failed', you'll 'be surprised'. But as I said, it's just me.
    – Maulik V
    Jan 2, 2015 at 9:45
  • "you'll get surprised" sounds odd to my AmE ear. However, I might say "I'm an obsessive planner, so I don't get surprised often." Of course, there it is not used as an adjective, so maybe that is the underlying difference?
    – ColleenV
    Jan 2, 2015 at 16:32
  • Get a surprise is more common, and arguably more correct. Jan 2, 2015 at 18:58

2 Answers 2


I'm a native speaker of US English and cannot recall hearing or seeing the phrase "get surprised" in ordinary discourse. I would be surprised if a native speaker of English used that phrase.

The concept of "surprise" entails knowing or experiencing something that you had not expected to observe, and it has the connotation of a change in state (from unawareness to awareness) rather than a state in which you remain. (It is hard to "stay surprised" by something once you're aware of it.) Hence to "be surprised" already has the connotations that phrases such as "get surprised" or "become surprised" might have if they were idiomatic English. I think that is probably why I always expect to hear the verb "be" rather than another verb such as "get" in that context.

Note that it is possible to say "I am always surprised when I get a good grade," but that has more the sense of repeated surprise than continual surprise; if I said that, it would mean that in between the times when I receive grades, I always expect my next grade to be a poor one.


Your question is actually about the adjective "surprised".

To my ear (native British speaker), "get surprised" sounds a little unnatural but the distinction would be that "you will be surprised" refers to being in a state of surprise, whereas "you will get surprised" refers to entering a state of surprise. In the example in the question, there's not much difference since, if I tell you the truth, you will enter a state of surprise and then be in a state of surprise for a few moments.

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