# "expected" vs. "supposed"

Suppose in a classroom, the teacher asks a student to analyze an option in a multiple choice question. The student didn't hear it clearly and asks

Sorry, I didn't hear it clearly. Am I supposed to analyze the option B or D?

... Am I expected ...?

According to an ELL post

When the two are used in the affirmative sense, I'd say they are relatively synonymous.

Do they mean the same thing?

• In this situation (querying an instruction given out in class), Am I supposed to would be more idiomatic. Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 7:58
• "Should I analyze the option B or D" is a request for clarification of choice between the two. Both "Am I supposed" and "Am I expected" sound to me like questioning the activity as a whole, as if it was something preposterous.
– SF.
Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 13:24
• @SF. "as if it was something preposterous", does it mean that the expression "am I supposed" implies the action of analyzing an option in class is stupid? Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 13:56
• @ThomasW: Yes. "We haven't learned anything about it yet. I don't have a clue where to begin, both of these options are way outside the scope of current lesson. Am I really supposed to be doing this?"
– SF.
Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 14:02
• @SF. I got it. In this context, the sense/feeling is quite clear. Thank you so much. Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 14:04

Use "suppose" when there is a higher level of ambiguity. E.g, 50-50 chances that 1 of 2 options will happen.

Use "expected" when the final result is known (or desired) to a higher degree. Example:

It rains and I have no umbrella. I expect that I will get wet.

Another example:

Teacher: I expect that you will do our homework.

Even though the chance that the homework will be done varies from 0% to 100% (depending on many factors), the teacher wants to actually see the homework done (which takes the chances closer to 100%).

Compare with:

Teacher: I suppose that you will do our homework.

in which the teaches knows nothing about the outcome, and he just verbalizes an assumption.

• Thank you. Does "5-50 chances" mean 50% for B and 50% for D? Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 14:00
• I meant "50-50", I updated the answer. Thank you for pointing it out to me. Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 14:04