I am trying to shorten a sentence which is somewhat structured as follows:

{something} turned out to be {something}

Is there a single word that could replace turned out to be?


I thought the food was real, but it turned out to be plastic.

9 Answers 9


Answering the general question, the word is proved. In fact one definition for prove over at both Wiktionary and Merriam-Webster is literally "to turn out to be". Quoting the former,

3. (copulative) To turn out to be.
Have an exit strategy should your calculations prove incorrect.

In your specific example sentence, however, I'd prefer actually saying "turned out to be". Otherwise the register seems off.

  • "proved to be" is another option, which sounds more natural to my ears than trying to use just "proved" in the example sentence (but isn't just one word)
    – Tim S.
    Feb 12, 2014 at 20:50

'was' fits in the sentence you give. "Turned out to be" implies a change that never actually happened.

I thought the food was real, but it was plastic.

  • Upvoting because it does fit in the sentence. Not sure I agree about the implied change though. Even if such a change is a physically possibility (as in "I thought the lake was frozen, but it turned out it wasn't") that still doesn't mean the change occurred between first seeing it and actually testing.
    – Mr Lister
    Feb 13, 2014 at 13:33
  • Yes, there's nothing wrong with 'turned out to be' as a figure of speech. But the only thing that would make 'was' inapplicable would be if there had been some such change
    – Oldcat
    Feb 13, 2014 at 17:38

I thought the food was real, but discovered it was plastic.

Not exactly a match for "turned out to be" since "discovered" is about you and not the food, but for this sentence it seems to work as needed.


'Transpired' might fit the bill, but it requires a slightly different structure.

(of a secret or something unknown) come to be known; be revealed:

I thought the food was real, but it transpired it was plastic.


I thought the food would be real, but actually it was plastic.

I expected the movie to be garbage; actually, it was quite good.

Not an exact substitute for "turns out to..." but it could be used in many of the same contexts.


Depending on the demands of turned out to be ( i.e. if it is scientific where you need to imply that it could have become something else ) you can use a comma, then subsequently, and rest on the next implication more than the became. Knowing the existing sentence would help, otherwise.

Update: Or, if you want to go the ironic route: alas. Also with a comma before it. This adds the quality of having an attitude or air of a sort, also. If another word is possible, then: , but alas.

  • How about in the case: "I thought the food was real, but it turned out to be plastic." Feb 12, 2014 at 17:00
  • @ChongWaldo I updated my answer with what immediately came to me when you gave me a sentence. Feb 12, 2014 at 17:03
  • 'Alas' hardly means 'but it turned / turns out to be'. It's just that the words can sometimes (one thinks of Dumbledore) be sensibly elided. 'No – ...' would sometimes work, too. Feb 12, 2014 at 17:34

Eventuate seems closest to the meaning "turned out to be", as in

His ideas seemed promising, but they eventuated a disappointment.



His ideas seemed promising, but they ended up disappointing.

His ideas seemed promising, but they became disappointing.

His ideas seemed promising but they yielded disappointment.


After a career of publically displayed integrity, it emerged that the politician was a crook.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.