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Surprised Tone

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Surprised Tone

Whether we are speaking or writing, we are always changing the way we communicate to convey our feelings and emotions. One way we can do this is by changing our tone of voice. Let's take a quick look at the meaning of tone.

In speech, tone refers to the sound of our voice and how we change it to create meaning. We take into account the following:

  • Pitch (high/low)
  • Volume (loud/quiet)
  • Tempo (fast/slow)

In writing, our tone can be changed through the use of vocabulary (the words we use) and grammar (spelling, punctuation and capitalisation).

There are different tones to use when we communicate, but today we will focus on the 'surprised' tone.

Surprised Tone Definition

So what does it mean to be surprised?

If someone is surprised, it means they are shocked in a sudden or unexpected way. This can be either positive or negative. For example, someone could either be excited or scared.

Someone throws a surprise party for a friend's birthday. The friend is surprised and reacts excitedly because they weren't expecting anything fun to happen for their birthday. This is an example of a positive surprise.

Someone hides behind a door and jumps out, surprising their friend. This time, the friend reacts in a negative way because they got scared.

Surprised Tone Words

Some words that have similar meanings to 'surprised' are:

  • Shocked

  • Astonished

  • Amazed

  • Startled

  • Astounded

  • Stunned

Surprised Person

When a person is surprised, they can use a surprised tone to express their emotions (both in speech and writing). But how can we tell when a person is surprised? Let's begin by looking at how to spot the surprised tone in speech:

Surprised Tone In Speech

When we express a surprised tone in speech, we change the sound of our voice. As previously mentioned, someone's tone of voice depends on the pitch, volume, and tempo.

Surprised pitch

When someone is surprised, they tend to raise the pitch of their voice (their voice gets higher). This lets the listener know that they did not expect something to happen or were shocked by something. If they do not raise the pitch of their voice, this could show that they are not affected by something, so do not feel shocked.

Surprised volume

The volume of someone's voice tends to get louder when they are surprised - they may even shout! For example, if someone gets scared by someone/something, they may react by shouting in shock.

Surprised tempo

The speed of someone's voice tends to get faster when they are surprised. For example, someone's speech may get jumbled after being surprised, so they may speak faster and less clearly.

We often use our voices to express our emotions, but this doesn't always happen. Sometimes, people may be so surprised that they don't make any noise - instead, they are silent!

It is worth mentioning that we can also express our emotions through non-verbal language. This is any language that is not spoken, such as facial expressions and gestures.

When we are surprised, it can show on our faces in the following ways:

  • Raised eyebrows
  • Eyes open wider
  • Mouth drops

Surprised Image of a surprised person StudySmarter

Surprise may be shown through facial expressions (Pixabay)

Surprised Tone In Writing

We can change the sound of our voices when we speak, but how do we show a surprised tone in writing? Well, we focus on our vocabulary and grammar. Let's take a look at some examples of words/sentences used to create a surprised tone:

Surprised Tone Examples

Vocabulary

Instead of relying on the sound of someone's voice, writing relies on a description to let the reader know how someone is feeling. For example, if someone is surprised, they could use different verbs to describe how they are feeling:

"I am so shocked!"

"He was amazed!"

"She's astounded!"

"He was so startled, it took his breath away."

"They were too stunned to speak."

A lot of the time, people use interjections when they are surprised. Interjections are words or phrases that express emotion or feeling. Have you used any of the following interjections when you've been surprised?

"OMG!"

"Jeez!"

"Ahh!"

"Oh!"

"Wow!"

"Woah!"

People can also describe the physical characteristics of a person when they are scared, i.e. how their face changes to show emotion. For example:

"His eyes widened."

"Her mouth dropped."

"They raised their eyebrows."

Grammar

Another thing people do to show that they are surprised is to use exclamation marks and/or capitalisation.

Let's take the following sentence:

"Wow! I wasn't expecting to see you!"

The exclamation marks used here emphasise the feeling of shock or surprise. If the exclamation marks weren't used, the sentence would look like this:

"Wow. I wasn't expecting to see you."

This makes it less obvious that the person is surprised. It may come across as sarcastic or unenthusiastic instead.

Let's take another example:

"AH, OH MY GOSH!"

Just like exclamation marks, capitalisation can be used to make an emotion seem stronger. In this case, it highlights the sense of surprise.

Surprised Image of surprised characters StudySmarter

Exclamation marks and capitalisation can be used to express surprise (Pixabay)

Surprised Tone In A Sentence

Below are some different sentences that have a 'surprised' tone. As you read through them, think about how you can tell that they have a surprised tone. What elements of each sentence make the tone clear to you?

Surprised sentence examples
'Oh wow, really? I wasn't expecting that at all!"
"OMG! WHAT?!"
"I'm SO shocked!"
"I'm speechless!"
"Ahh! I can't believe it!"

Surprised Tone - Key Takeaways

  • If a person is surprised, it means they are shocked in a sudden or unexpected way.
  • Surprises can be either positive or negative - someone can be either excited or scared.
  • In speech, surprise is often shown in the voice through a higher pitch, louder volume and faster tempo.
  • Surprise can also be shown through non-verbal language (raised eyebrows, wide eyes, mouth drops).
  • In writing, surprise is shown through vocabulary (description of emotions, physical facial expressions, interjections) and grammar (exclamation marks and capitalisation).

Frequently Asked Questions about Surprised Tone

If someone is feeling surprised, it means they are shocked in a sudden or unexpected way. This can be either positive or negative. For example, someone could either be excited or scared.

Some examples of different tones are:

  • Surprised
  • Curious
  • Encouraging
  • Hypocritical
  • Cooperative
  • Serious
  • Humorous
  • Optimistic
  • Worried
  • Aggressive
  • Friendly

Exciting can be either a mood or a tone.

In writing, we express surprise by focusing on our vocabulary and grammar. For example, we can use different verbs to describe our feelings, such as 'shocked', 'amazed', and 'startled.' We can also use interjections, such as 'OMG!', 'Ahh!' and 'Wow!' We also often use exclamation marks and/or capitalisation to express surprise.

When we express a surprised tone in speech, we change the sound of our voice. This means we do the following:


  • Raise the pitch of our voice
  • Increase the volume of our voice
  • Increase the tempo of our voice

Final Surprised Tone Quiz

Question

When a person is surprised, this means that they are expecting something to happen.


True or false?

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

Which of the following is a synonym for 'surprised'?

Show answer

Answer

shocked

Show question

Question

Which of the following is not a synonym for 'surprised'?

Show answer

Answer

bothered

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Question

A surprise can only be negative.


True or false?

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

Scaring someone is considered an example of what kind of surprise?

Show answer

Answer

Negative surprise

Show question

Question

Giving a friend an unexpected gift is considered an example of what kind of surprise?

Show answer

Answer

Positive surprise

Show question

Question

Fill in the blank:


When someone is surprised, they tend to ______ their eyebrows.

Show answer

Answer

raise

Show question

Question

Fill in the blank:


When someone is surprised, their ____ tend to get wider.

Show answer

Answer

eyes

Show question

Question

Fill in the blank:


When someone is surprised, their ____ can sometimes drop.

Show answer

Answer

mouth

Show question

Question

When someone is surprised, they tend to ____ the pitch of their voice.

Show answer

Answer

raise

Show question

Question

When someone is surprised, they tend to ________ the volume of their voice.

Show answer

Answer

increase

Show question

Question

When someone is surprised, they tend to speak at a ______ tempo.

Show answer

Answer

faster

Show question

Question

Surprise is often shown through the use of interjections.


What are interjections?

Show answer

Answer

words or phrases that express emotion or feeling.

Show question

Question

Surprise is often shown in writing through the use of punctuation. But what type of punctuation effectively shows surprise?

Show answer

Answer

Exclamation mark

Show question

Question

Capitalisation can be used to show surprise in writing. This is because...

Show answer

Answer

It emphasises the emotion

Show question

Question

What does 'tone' mean in language?

Show answer

Answer

Tone refers to the sound of our voice and how we change it to create meaning. 

Show question

Question

What three sound qualities of our voices can impact our tone?

Show answer

Answer

  • pitch
  • volume
  • tempo

Show question

Question

Define 'surprised'.

Show answer

Answer

If someone is surprised, it means they are shocked in a sudden or unexpected way. This can be either positive or negative. For example, someone could either be excited or scared.

Show question

Question

What is 'non-verbal language'?

Show answer

Answer

Any language that is not spoken, such as facial expressions and gestures.

Show question

Question

List three ways we can show surprise using non-verbal language.

Show answer

Answer

  • Raised eyebrows
  • Eyes open wider
  • Mouth drops


Show question

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