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I was surprised at finding that ...

hirashin

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Hello, native English speakers,
(a) I was surprised to find that many students were learning Japanese.
(b) I was surprised at finding that many students were learning Japanese.

I think (a) is fine, but how about (b)?

Thanks in advance.

Hirashin
 

Lothor

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In such cases, let Google be your friend.
Try putting "surprised to find that" (with the quote marks) and "surprised at finding that" into Google.
The former gives about 19 million matches, the latter gives 73,000 matches but does include some high-profile results - Cobbett's history of the UK Parliament and the Bible.
That would suggest that "to find that" is much more commonly used but that "at finding that" is not wrong but generally avoided by modern native English speakers.
I work as a proofreader and use Google in this way a lot.
 

Edward T.

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Both are correct, but most people are surprised to find many students studying Japanese. Try to avoid the word "that" as much as possible. See the reference below:

"That"

"That" is a useful word for adding clarity, but like Bibles on the bedstands of seedy motel rooms, the word's presence is often out of place.

When "that" is employed to add a description, you can almost always move the description to before the term and make a more powerful image.

Ireland was nothing but flowing green hills that flowed green.

In many other cases, "that" can simply be dropped or replaced with a more descriptive term.

I was drunk the night that your father and I met.

Many other uses of "that," such as "I wish I wasn't that ugly", can be enhanced with more descriptive language.
 

Edward T.

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Hello, native English speakers,
(a) I was surprised to find that many students were learning Japanese.
(b) I was surprised at finding that many students were learning Japanese.

I think (a) is fine, but how about (b)?

Thanks in advance.

Hirashin

One other way to avoid the passive voice in English (words like "was") in your above sentence is "It surprised me to find many students learning (or studying) Japanese."

The examples above in (a) and (b) you provided are correct. My example is another way of phrasing it and eliminating the passive voice. But all of them are fine to use in English.
 
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