I dont know whether to use singular or plural case here. I couldnt find an answer to this quickly browsing the web and could argue for both being correct.Maybe they are but do they have slightly different meanings then?

  • If you want to use set in this sort of context, the only natural usage I can think of is things like He set great store by appearances. Which isn't all that "natural" today - it's a rather dated / literary / formal usage. Note that one often pins [one's] hopes [on something], but you would need to provide an example sentence context AND a full explanation of exactly what it's supposed to MEAN if you want more help on valid usages in this area, – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 21 '16 at 13:43
  • Alright I can make use of those two. What about set ones hopes ON something? does that make any sense? I dont quite get where the first expression comes from but I can use it nonetheless – ChadThunder Oct 21 '16 at 14:33
  • I suppose one could set one's hopes on something, but to me that sounds more like a corruption of set one's sights on something. Having said that, obviously there would be a shift in nuance there (with your hopes it's about something you want to happen, whereas with sights it's about what you're focusing on). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 21 '16 at 14:57

It seems like you're reaching for the correct idiom to use with set and hope. As with most English idioms, there is no underlying rule and you simply have to memorize the pattern, which is "to set ones hopes on ..."

The candidate set his hopes on winning the debate

She set her hopes on getting the big promotion

They set their hopes on landing the contract before Christmas

This idiom means not only that you hope some outcome will happen, but that in some way you rely on it happening -- that there could be some consequence if it didn't happen.

Why "hopes" and not "hope"? Again, idiom is the way it is and while we could probably create a logical explanation, I doubt it would explain anything else. Anyway, your sentences are grammatically fine, but the meaning doesn't parse as well as if you use the idiom.

Of course you can just use the verb "to hope" in the usual way, to simply imply that you want something to happen:

The candidate hoped to win the debate

She hoped to get the big promotion

They hoped to land the contract before Christmas

Another related idiom is "to have high hopes" This means that you really want something to happen, so much that you almost expect it to happen, but not necessarily that you rely on it happening.

The candidate had high hopes that he would win the debate

She had high hopes for getting the big promotion

They had high hopes they would land the contract before Christmas

Which you choose depends on what, exactly, you want to say.

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