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Not Surprising vs. Not Surprisingly

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  Marius Alza  —  Grammar Tips
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Not surprising vs. Not surprisingly

When you want to use the opposite meaning of a word, adding "not" before that word is a usual preference to express your message. When you refer to something that does not surprise you, therefore, adding "not" before it seems the best decision, doesn't it?

Alright, but when you describe surprising things, you use both "surprising" and "surprisingly". So when you want to transmit the negative version...which one should you add "not" to? Should you use "not surprising" or "not surprisingly"? This situation can be very confusing, so let's make things clear!

Not surprising vs. Not surprisingly

Even though they are similar and easily confused, it is actually very simple to make a clear distinction between "not surprising" and "not surprisingly". Simply think about where these constructions come from. "Surprising" is an adjective, while "surprisingly" is an adverb, this is already clear for you for sure. Then why would it be any different for "not surprising" and "not surprisingly"?

"Not surprising" is an adjective phrase and "not surprisingly" is an adverbial phrase. According to this simple explanation, you can very easily identify how and in what context you can use these constructions in your phrases.

When do we use "not surprising"?

As an adjective phrase, "not surprising" is describing an object, a phenomenon, an action or another element that doesn't surprise you, that is mostly predictable.

Example: The ending of the moving was not surprising at all.

When do we use "not surprisingly"?

It is an adverb phrase, so you should use this construction whenever you would also use "surprisingly", but want to express its opposite. Use "not surprisingly" while referring to something that happened without surprising you. To remember this easier, keep in mind that "not surprisingly" should be easily replaceable with "unsurprisingly".

Example: Not surprisingly, the movie had a happy ending.


Both "not surprising" and "not surprisingly" are correct, though they should be used in quite different contexts and phrases in order to clearly and correctly transmit your message. Remember that "not surprising" is an adjective phrase, while "not surprisingly" is always an adverb phrase.

Not Surprising vs. Not Surprisingly

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