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It comes as no surprise that societies have codes of behavior; the character of the codes, on the other hand, can often be _________ .

A) predictable

B) unexpected

C) admirable

D) explicit

E) confusing

Choice B-unexpected is correct, but I think choice E can also be right. Isn't it?

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    'on the other hand' should introduce a direct contrast. 'unexpected' is the best counterpart to 'surprise'. 'confusing' is not right because it is somewhat on the same side as 'surprising' in this context.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 12:59
  • Yes but surprising has a positive connotation whereas confusing has a negative.
    – Manish
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 17:08
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    Manish: good point, and that's exactly the kind of nuances it is good to make explicit when answering these kinds of questions. But the closer opposite of 'no surprise' is 'unexpected' rather than just 'negative' ('confusing' has too many other meanings beyond negative which are not related to the positive of 'no surprise'). So 'no surprise' is perfect but 'confusing' isn't. If 'unexpected' weren't a choice, 'confusing' might be the best of the remaining, but that still doesn't make it good; it just seems irrelevant (like the others).
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 17:44

2 Answers 2

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In the first part, there is It comes as no surprise. In the second part, they use on the other hand which imho means that they are looking for a word with an opposite meaning - something like "surprising". Therefore, I would choose B - unexpected.

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The phrase "on the other hand" implies a contrast with an omitted "on the one hand" in the first clause. In this example the only choice offered which contrasts with any term in the first clause is "unexpected", which contrasts with "no surprise".

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