I'm afraid if my understanding has been wrong all along. I have this sense after reading the definition of expect itself in the dictionary. As a verb, this word has 3 different definitions (According to Cambridge Dictionary).

  1. Think
  2. Demand
  3. Be pregnant

I thought, they are interchangeably, hope and expect are, at first. Suppose I have a sentence:

I hope you will eat your food.

Can we use expect to substitute hope?

I expect you to eat your food.

I believe, there's something different between them, but I don't know what and how to use them differently. Is it correct if I make a guess, expect you is stronger than hope you will?

I mean, suppose I'm in a real-life, when I mean to say 'I hope you will do something' to people and want to rephrase it 'I expect you to do something', I don't know whether I sound pushy or not.

2 Answers 2


Just like the dictionary says, “expect” is closer in meaning to “demand.” So, “I hope you will eat your food” is much softer, it’s not pushy and by saying that you just express your hope that this will happen, although you don’t actually demand that done. But if you say, “I expect you to eat your food,” you will sound like a strict parent demanding the action from their child. In other words, “Eat you food please!” The tone is rather different, as you can see, so be careful with the word “expect” - it is used to make a demand.

Perhaps, you’ve been associating “expect” with “hope” because of the first meaning of the word “expect” - “think that something will happen.” Note though that even if that’s true, the meaning of the word is different from that of “hope”:

Investors expect that the rate of inflation will rise. (~ they predict that; you wouldn’t say they hope that would happen as hope is a desire for a particular thing to happen)


The meanings are different.
"I hope..."
expresses a wish or desire.

In your examples, expect means this:
AHD expect
3. To consider obligatory; require: The school expects its pupils to be on time.

That expect definitely sounds pushy.

However, there are other, polite senses. On receiving a new visitor, one might say

I'm glad you got here safely. I expect you may be hungry by now.

That is quite polite, and just means think.

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