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Language tip of the week: surprised

Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter

In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of language tips to accompany the Real Vocabulary theme we look at how you can expand your vocabulary in English by using different words and expressions instead of core vocabulary items.

This set of language tips will explore the words and phrases we use to talk about feelings. This week’s tip looks at adjectives and phrases that mean surprised or very surprised:


  • She was extremely surprised to see them.
  • The woman was so surprised that she almost fell over.
  • We were genuinely surprised at their reaction.

amazed very surprised:

  • We were amazed at the response to our appeal.
  • Frankly, I was amazed that he was interested.
  • When she told me how much she was earning, I was absolutely amazed.
  • amazed to see/hear/learn etc: They were amazed to discover that they had won the Best Album award.

astonished extremely surprised:

  • We were astonished at the lack of security. 
  • He was astonished that she had backed down.
  • an astonished look/expression

astounded so surprised by something that you can hardly believe it:

  • His doctors were astounded that he had survived the accident.

Amazed, astonished and astounded are not usually used before a noun. When they are, they usually describe the way someone reacts to something:

  • The amazed faces of the children were wonderful to see.
  • He shot me an astonished glance.

staggered extremely surprised at something you are told or something that happens:

  • We were staggered to learn of this new policy.
  • I was staggered at the amount of money that was being wasted.

Did you know that Macmillan Dictionary includes a full thesaurus? This page lists more ways to say ‘surprised‘.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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