Expect, hope or wait ? - English Grammar Today - Cambridge Dictionaries Online

Expect, hope or wait?

from English Grammar Today


We use expect to say that we believe that something will happen. We use expect in the following main patterns:

expect + object:

She’s expecting a second baby.

expect + to-infinitive:

We expect to move into our new flat next week.

expect + that-clause:

We expected that the guest house would have much better rooms.

expect + object + to-infinitive:

The company expects her to be early.

Expect also means ‘think’ or ‘suppose’. When expect has this meaning, we do not commonly use it in the continuous form:


Will he have bought the necklace by now?


I expect so.

Not: I’m expecting so.

I expect that he’ll be wearing that bright blue shirt.

Not: I am expecting

When we expect that something will not happen or is not true, expect is most commonly used in a negative form:

I don’t expect she will pass the exam. (preferred to I expect she won’t pass …)


We use hope when we do not know whether something will happen or not but we want it to happen. We use hope in the following patterns:

hope + to-infinitive:

I think you were hoping to see your family next week.

hope + that clause:

I hope that your sister recovers quickly from the operation.

hope + for:

[parents discussing the birth of their next child]

We’ve already got two boys so we’re hoping for a girl.

We use hope to express good intentions and wishes for the future:

I hope we can see each other soon.

Not: I wish we can see each other soon.

I hope you enjoy your stay in Greece.

Not: I wish you enjoy your stay in Greece.


We use wait when we refer to letting time pass because we are expecting that something is going to happen. We use wait in the following main patterns:

wait (imperative):

Just wait here with the bags and I’ll go and get a taxi.

wait + for:

Don’t worry. I’ll wait for you.

wait + to-infinitive:

When the band arrived at the concert hall, a large crowd of screaming fans were waiting to greet them.

wait + for + object + to-infinitive:

They’re waiting for him to make up his mind and won’t do anything until he does.

Expect, hope or wait: typical errors

  • We don’t use wait or wait for to say that we believe that something will happen. We use expect:

People usually expect holidays to revive their spirits and renew their souls and they often succeed in achieving that target.

Not: People usually wait for holidays to

  • We don’t use expect to refer to time passing when we are talking about something that we hope is going to happen:

I look forward very much to hearing from you soon, and I wait anxiously for a positive answer.

Not: … and I expect anxiously a positive answer.

(“Expect, hope or wait ?” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press.)
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