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I recently studied the grammar point of 〜ことに〜, as in 「あきれたことに、彼の禁煙は1日だけだった。」, however I'm not quite confident with it's meaning. I'm having no trouble with the meaning of the sentence it self but rather with using it myself. Is the grammar point equivalent to the English 'to my surprise/horror etc.'? And if not can anyone offer me a more suitable translation so that I can fully grasps the meaning of said construct?

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Yes, 驚いたことに is the most common translation of "to my surprise". You can often use a sentence adverb ("Surprisingly, ..."), "what's (adj) ..." or "(adj) thing is ..." too.

This ~ことに is used with some adjectives that express emotion, such as 悲しい, 嬉しい, and 残念. I feel some adjectives do not normally take ~ことに even though they describe emotions (we don't usually say [?]楽しいことに nor [?]爽快なことに for example). Some combinations you can safely use include:

  • 嬉しいことに、幸いなことに
  • 悲しいことに、恐ろしいことに、怖いことに、辛いことに、悔しいことに、惜しいことに
  • 可哀想なことに、心配なことに、残念なことに
  • 困ったことに、驚いたことに
  • 悪いことに ("what's worse")

And note that this pattern is a bit stiff, and appears in speech uncommonly. I think it's best to learn from examples, so please take a look at the following page.

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In the book 日本語能力試験対応 文法問題集 written by 白寄まゆみ and 入内島一美しい, page 26:

A ことに/ことには B
B なので、とても A

A expresses some emotion.
B is the reason for that emotion.

You can either say ことに or ことには

Examples:

うれしいことに、明日退院できるんです。
ばかげたことに、彼は自ら注文した食事に手もつけなかった。
不思議なことには、彼はすでにそのことを知っていた。
興味深いことには、彼がそのソナタを作曲したときわずか7歳でした。

About the translation, I think you are right.
"to my surprise/horror etc" seems to be a good translation.

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