Hope Wait Expect & Look Forward to
What's the difference?

When I say hope wait expect or look forward to, are you 100% sure what they mean and when to use them? Take a look at the next paragraph.

You have been waiting for some grammar explanations and I am happy to give you my first English grammar article. You might have expected me to write about something like; 'Make vs Do' or maybe you were hoping that I would talk about phrasal verbs.

Not today, but soon. I hope that you are looking forward to today's article focusing on the difference between hope wait expect and look forward to

Let's define the terms hope wait expect and look forward to and then compare them. 

Using Practical English Usage by Michael Swan makes this much easier.

1) To wait
the act of waiting (remaining inactive in one place while expecting something

-Basically to wait is when you pass time until something else happens or occurs.

To wait is usually related to something physically. For example: You wait at the bus stop for the bus. Imagine sitting or standing at the bus stop. You are there (physically) waiting for the bus.

2) To expect
to see something as probable, likely or reasonable

-When you expect something it is like you are mentally assuming that it will happen. You expect the sun to rise in the morning because it has happened everyday of your life so far.

You also expect to get paid for the work that you do because it is reasonable. Imagine that you are still waiting for the bus. You expect it to come at 5pm because that is the schedule and it has come at that time for the last month.

3)To hope
the general feeling that some desire will be fulfilled

-Hope is close to expect but the difference is that hope involves emotions. When you expect something it is a mental process whereas hoping for something to happen is more of an emotional desire.

If you are waiting for the bus you could say that you hope the bus is on time because you have a plane to catch.

4)To look forward to
thinking about something in the future, with pleasure

-When you look forward to something, it is a combined sense or feeling of hoping, expecting and waiting regarding something pleasurable in the future.

For example I am looking forward to going to Canada this summer.

Now that you have a good understanding of the definitions for hope wait expect and look forward to, lets look at how each word changes the meaning of a similar sentence.

Let's use the bus example from above. You will see that each sentence needs to change a little for it to make sense.

  • wait for the bus at the bus stop everyday.

    - If you wait for the bus you are standing in one place waiting for an event that you need to occur.

  • hope that the bus will arrive on time everyday.

    - If you hope the bus arrives on time, you are thinking about the bus' arrival and that you would like it to arrive on time.

  • expect that the bus will arrive on time everyday.

    - If you expect the bus will arrive on time, you are thinking about the bus' arrival and you are pretty sure it will happen.

  • look forward to speaking to the bus driver everyday.

    - If you are looking forward to speaking to the bus driver it means that you like speaking to the driver and you are anticipating this enjoyable future event.

Click here to see this grammar used to describe three areas of my life. (This website, my job and my trip to Canada). 

A Hope wait expect and look forward to Exercise

Can you tell the difference? Try to choose the right answers for the sentences below.

A) I'm ________ (waiting or hoping) for the book I ordered to arrive.

B) I'm ________(expecting or looking forward) to reading the book that I ordered. I love books about Canada.

C) I________ (expect or hope) that the book arrives soon, I want to read it.

D) I ________ (wait or expect) that it will arrive before next Friday because it should arrive within 2 weeks of ordering it.

See answers at the bottom of this page!

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A) I'm waiting for the book I order to arrive.
B) I'm looking forward to reading the book that I ordered. I love books about Canada.
C) I hope that the book arrives soon, I want to read it.
D) I expect it will arrive before next Friday because it should arrive within 2 weeks of ordering it.

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