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Here are two examples from a dictionary ( Collins Cobuild Advanced Learner’s Dict)

Now that he has become president, many people once again have hope for genuine changes in the system.

Kevin hasn’t given up hope of getting in shape

Can we interchange the two collocations, ‘hope of sth.’ and ‘hope for sth.’ in the above examples? And why?

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I can't find any supporting documentation, but as a native speaker, I would say they are not exactly interchangeable. I don't think anyone would say, "People have hope of change." It would also be odd to say, "Kevin hasn't given up hope for getting in shape," although that doesn't sound as wrong.

As a rule of thumb, it seems like the gerund makes the difference. I'd say constructions using a gerund typically take "hope of," while constructions with other nouns take "hope for." For example:

Do we have any hope of leaving soon?
Does she have any hope of taking first place?

I hope for prosperity.
She hopes for your happiness.

However, there's also a subtle difference in meaning. We sometimes use "hope of" to indicate ability and "hope for" to indicate desire. For example, this sentence actually has nothing to do with Kevin's hopes and instead means that it is not possible for Kevin to get in shape, even if he hopes or wants to:

Kevin has no hope of getting in shape.

I would speculate that the tie between "hope of" and "ability" has a lot to do with the tie between "hope of" and gerunds. Pure nouns don't connote any kind of ability, but verb-based gerunds do.

  • Many thanks for your answer! Here is another pair of examples (from Merriam Webster’s Advanced Learner’s Dictionary): she believes there is hope of / for a cure. The dictionary includes either collocation in this example. What would you think of it? – Lynnyo Feb 9 '18 at 8:36
  • Interesting. I would probably say "hope for a cure" pretty much all of the time, but it's true that "hope of a cure" doesn't sound wrong to me. All I can say is that it sounds much more skeptical, as in She believes there is hope of a cure, but I highly doubt it. "For" works in that context, too, though, and I'd still be more likely to use it. Or if not skeptical, at least more clinical and neutral. For sure, it seems to be talking more about whether there's a possibility of a cure, without taking true "hope" into consideration. – joiedevivre Feb 9 '18 at 8:52

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