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What's the difference between the two? Example:

Everyone thought it was a panther. As it turned out, that was precisely the case.

Everyone thought it was a panther. It turned out, that was precisely the case.

3 Answers 3

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The syntax is significantly different. The comma is completely wrong in the second version, because it turned out that [something happened/was true] actually requires "that" to reference the fact of something "turning out". That mandatory "that" is additional to the (optionally deletable) one referencing the statement that turned out to be true.

Consider about 13,600 results in Google Books where both "that"'s occur consecutively...

1: He didn't expect to die. But it turned out that that was what happened.

If we introduce as, the comma (pause in speech) is required, and the first that is no longer valid...

2: He didn't expect to die. But as it turned out, that was what happened.

Note that in common parlance, "it" in #2 may be replaced by other more specific nouns (things, events, etc.), but this would be at least "unusual" in context #1.


Apart from the syntactic differences, I don't believe there's any reason to make any semantic distinction between the two constructions. They're both relatively informal usages, and it's implicit in it turned out that whatever did take place or become apparent wasn't what the speaker had expected. But neither version implies any more or less surprise at the outcome.

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The two mean exactly the same thing, but "as it turned out" has a bit more of an astonished mood, like they're saying "amazingly, that was precisely the case!"

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They're almost identical in sense and meaning. The only real difference is that "As it turned out" has a slightly stronger hint of surprise. If you say "As it turned out, X." you're saying that X is a somewhat surprising outcome.

"I wondered which teacher I would have for grade 7. It turned out to be Mrs. Smith, who often taught grade 7."

"I wondered which teacher I would have for grade 7. As it turned out, both of our usual grade 7 teachers had quit, so they hired someone completely new."

"I wondered which teacher I would have for grade 7. As it turned out, I had my own father."

It can also be used very sarcastically, in cases where X is not a surprising outcome, but someone has behaved as though they didn't expect it anyway - such as if they act without regard for obvious consequences:

"Did you hear what happened to Jimmy?"

"No! What happened?"

"As it turns out, the police don't like getting prank calls." (Implication: (1) Jimmy has been making prank calls to the police, (2) Jimmy got in trouble because of it, (3) no one should be surprised by this outcome, and yet (4) Jimmy clearly didn't anticipate this outcome, or he wouldn't have done it.)

For this sarcastic usage, you'll use the present tense, since you're making an observation about a general truth that was illustrated by these events, rather than making a comment about the events themselves.

"It turns/turned out" can be used in both of these cases instead of "As it turns/turned out", but "As it turns/turned out" emphasizes the surprise in the first case, and the sarcasm in the second case.

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