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Unit 18: Hope


A question from Agata in Poland:

Quite recently a group of English learners from Poland got interested in the following question:

What grammatical constructions are possible after a verb "hope"?

A lot of doubts were connected with proper usage of "will" after verb "hope".

Could you please provide elaborate and easy to understand answer to such question in "Ask About English" section?

Thank you in advance


P.S - Curious members of* forum cannot wait to hear from your experts



Mark Shea answers:

Hi Agata,

It sounds like we'd better try to satisfy everyone's curiosity as quickly as possible!

The verb 'hope' is actually quite flexible. It's typical to use the present tense with 'hope' to give a future meaning -

"I hope that you have a good time," for example.

This is just like 'if' in the first conditional -

"I'll call you if anything happens."

But it's also possible to use 'will' in certain contexts -

"I hope that you will be able to finish on time." OR...

"I hope that you'll visit us again in the near future."

In almost all cases, the 'will' could be replaced by the present tense with little or no difference in meaning, but it doesn't always work the other way round.

"I hope that he has his passport with him." -

cannot always be changed to:

"I hope that he will have his passport with him."

as the first one has both present and future meaning, but the second one can only have future meaning.

So hope + the present tense is rather more flexible than hope + will, but sometimes they mean the same thing.

Some more examples...

"They hope that you'll remember your promise"

is almost the same as:

"They hope that you remember your promise", but -

"I hope that you agree to the proposal" -

might mean that you've already seen or heard the proposal, but if someone says:

"I hope that you will agree to the proposal" -

it is less likely that you've seen it already and perhaps the proposal may not have been made yet.

The present continuous can also be used with 'hope' and here the difference between present and future is even stronger. If someone says:

"I hope that you're thinking of me"...

it clearly means that they hope the person is thinking of them right now, but -

"I hope that you'll be thinking of me"

obviously refers to some time in the future.

So to sum up, it's probably better to use hope + present, as this is more flexible, and only ever use hope + will if you are very clear that your meaning is in the future.

I hope that you and your friends have enjoyed all my examples, Agata!

Mark Shea has been a teacher and teacher trainer for fifteen years. He has taught English and trained teachers extensively in Asia and South America, and is a qualified examiner for the University of Cambridge oral examinations. He is currently working with journalists and is the author of the BBC College of Journalism's online English tutor.








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