“I was surprised by how down-to-earth he was.”

You met and talked to a famous singer. You expected him to be unfriendly and intimidating, but when you met him he was nice and easy-to-talk-to. You say this when you tell a friend about him.

I was surprised by how down-to-earth he was.

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be surprised by (something)

When something surprises you, you say that you "were surprised by" it. "Surprised" describes your reaction. If you're describing the situation, you say "surprising":

It was surprising how easy it was.

I was surprised by how easy it was.

There are a lot of words to describe emotions that work similarly to "surprising" / "surprised". A few examples:

  • It was embarrassing. / I was embarrassed.
  • It was interesting. / I was interested.
  • It was amazing. / I was amazed.

Each word comes with its own preposition:

  • embarrassed by
  • interested in
  • worried about

"Surprised" uses the preposition "by". The best way to learn which preposition to use with each word is to memorize examples of each one.

how (adjective) (someone) is

When you want to talk about the level or amount of a quality, you use the phrase "how ___ something is". For example, if it's been raining a lot and the ground is really wet, you can say:

I can't believe how wet it is.

Another example. Your friend told you about her new boyfriend, but when you meet him you're surprised that he is more handsome than you expected. You say to her:

You didn't tell me how handsome he was.

(someone) is down-to-earth

A "down-to-earth" person is relaxed, casual, and easy-to-please. They like simple and realistic things.