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"You were the one who was surprised you liked it"

What is it about this sentence that makes it sound clumsy?

I'm not sure about specific grammatical rules that should be applied to this sentence, or if there is simply a more elegant way to express the meaning here.


The intention of the sentence being that:

Roger recalls that Susan recently tried banana muffins for the first time and liked them.

Susan suggests presently that Roger is a fiend for banana muffins and can't eat enough banana muffins.

Susan says to Roger: "You do like your muffins, don't you dear."

Roger would like to remind Susan that she too liked banana muffins, maybe even more so than she would care to admit.

Roger says to Susan: "You were the one who was surprised you liked them".

  • There's no grammatical error. For what is intended to be conveyed, the you in "you liked them" is inconsistent/ semantically incorrect. The sentence better be rephrased. (Suggestions on rephrasing are OT, btw.) – Kris Feb 15 at 6:51
  • @Kris ok, so I guess the meaning is not well conveyed with "you liked them" and that's why it sounds clumsy. – teebszet Feb 15 at 7:13
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    Does it sound less clumsy to you if you add that? You were the one who was surprised that you liked them – Shoe Feb 15 at 8:07
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It sounds clumsy to me because it is just a statement. The impression is robotic. It sounds less clumsy and more appropriate when it is asked as a question.

Consider:

Roger says to Susan: "Weren't you the one who was surprised you liked them"?

Hope this helps.

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It is grammatically and semantically correct and what's more, surprisingly difficult to improve. You can say "you were the one who was surprised to like it", and this removes some awkwardness, but it's a slightly more formal construction and so awkward in a different way. The stumbling point I think is "you were surprised you..." One isn't accustomed to the idea that you can surprise you, so one does a slight double take before realising it actually makes perfect sense. If you say "you were the one who was surprised when you liked it" this likewise removes the catching point and hence flows a little better but is still slightly unnatural. I don't think there's a perfect solution.

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If Roger tells Susan "You were the one who was surprised you liked them", his words mean that one person was surprised that Susan liked muffins, that person being Susan herself.

But if Roger tells Susan "You were the one who was surprised they liked them", his words mean that one person was surprised that they themselves liked muffins, that person being Susan.

So if Roger said the first but meant the second, then someone might think the sentence sounds clumsy because it doesn't convey the desired meaning and does mean something different.

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