This might be too basic a question to ask, but I couldn't find a question tackling this in ELL, as most of them are related to hope as a noun as in hope(s) for somebody rather than as a verb as in the pattern, hope for somebody to do something.

Is the pattern hope for somebody to do something correct and commonly used, meaning the same thing as the pattern hope that somebody does something?

For example:

I hope for him to stop his aggressive behaviors.I hope that he stops his aggressive behaviors.

I hope for his insomnia to be cured.I hope that his insomnia is cured.

Thank you.

1 Answer 1


The short answer is that it's correct grammatically, but that the two examples you give seem a little stuffy in normal conversation. Why use the '... hope for ...' structure when "I hope his aggressive behaviour improves" and "I hope his insomnia gets better" serve perfectly well?

I little stuffy your examples might or might not be, but they're perfectly good grammar.

In my dialect, 'hope for' is most often (but not always) used in a continuous tense (despite the fact that 'to hope' is not ordinarily an action verb - we use it a bit like another non-action verb, 'to feel': "I'm feeling perfectly comfortable, thank you!"): "We're hoping for an improvement in the weather." "I'm hoping for the team to commit themselves a little more next time." (though this less complex sentence works just as well: "I'm hoping the team commit themselves a little more next time."!)

We often add 'the best' when wishing people well: "I'm hoping the best for him in his exams!" "I hope the very best for you in/for the coming year!" ...

It's might be used to express a certain lack of agency on the part of the person or thing they're hoping something for, or both. "I'm hoping for Julie to see the light" might suggest that Julie has less agency than "I'm hoping she sees the light" would (and maybe that I can do very little for Julie either).

"Transport pressure groups are hoping for the Conservatives to change their policy on investment in rail travel" could always be rendered more simply (and without detectible loss of nuance) as "... are hoping for a change in Conservative policy ...", for example, or even "... are hoping the Conservatives change their policy ..."

To sum up, for me the expression usually sounds most natural when used with a fully-fledged noun phrase rather than a verb in the infinitive. "I had hoped for a bigger pay increase [than the one they gave me]" seems to me a little more natural than "I had hoped for them to give me a bigger pay increase ..."

That may explain why you've seen less material on the expression as used with an infinitive verb: it's not often necessary and rarely even useful.

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