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I was talking to my friend about our thesis that we have to finish before school starts. and I said I don't expect much from it but then I realized that saying I didn't expect much from it could make sense too. Can someone tells me which one is the correct answer? and why?

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    If you are still working on the thesis, it doesn't make sense to say 'I didn't expect much from it'. Aug 17 '21 at 18:30
  • One is present and one is past. One means you currently don't expect much in the future, and the other means you didn't expect much in the future of that past moment. What exactly are you confused about?
    – gotube
    Aug 17 '21 at 21:44
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The difference is in the tense. "I don't expect much" is in simple present, it means something you feel right now regardless of the past. "I didn't expect much" is in simple past, something that already happened and has ended.

In this case, "I didn't expect much" could imply that at first you didn't expect much but that has changed, but it wouldn't make much sense by itself, as it lacks contextualization (you are talking about your present thesis, so a sentence in the past needs to connect back to it), although it is gramatically correct. Meanwhile "I don't expect much" implies that right now you don't expect much, but doesn't imply anything about your past feelings.

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  • You could also say "I haven't expected much" which is in present perfect and could imply you didn't expect much in the past and that continues up to now, but stylistically that sounds a bit odd to me
    – Vitor
    Aug 17 '21 at 18:41

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