We had hoped to live/to be living in our new house by now, but the builders are still working on it.

UPDATED: I mean what is semantically the difference between to live and to be living there?

Why don't we use living or just to live there instead?

What is more, would you show me a resource for using such a structure – bold part?

  • Both hope + that-clause as well as hope + to + verb-infinitive is possible. Also hope + for + something is possible. Please consult a good dictionary and a usage dictionary. I used oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/hope_1 to check the usage of hope. Jan 14, 2015 at 6:01
  • to be living/to live is possible. But to be live is ungrammatical. living is an adjective in to be living, while to live is an infinitive construction. Jan 14, 2015 at 6:37
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    To those who have been engaged in an edit war, please desist. The moderation team would rather see this question get answered than locked.
    – J.R.
    Nov 6, 2016 at 9:33

3 Answers 3


We had hoped to be living in our new house by now, but the builders are still working on it.
(Why don't we use living or just to live there instead?)

The verb to hope uses the particle to when it connects to another verb in the infinitive form:

I hoped to play. (Not "I hoped play")

In other words, it takes an "infinitive complement". That's why you need that to.

Be living uses the so-called continuous or progressive aspect. This aspect is created by using [BE + Present Participle]: [be + living]. So you need that be.

The progressive aspect is used for actions that are ongoing at the time in question. The moment in time mentioned in your sentence is "by now". So, the meaning is "We had hoped that by this moment in time, we would be living in our new house".

Why not "live"? The phrase "by now" invites the use of a "dynamic" verb, a verb that expresses an action. When we use the simple form "live", it denotes a more permanent, long-lasting situation. In other words, the verb "live" acts like a "stative verb":

I hoped to live. (very "stative": I hoped to be in the state of being alive)
I hoped to live in a castle. (less "stative")
I hoped to be living in a castle by January 1, 2015. (more "dynamic")

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    Nice explanation considering the aspect of transition. And also why not "to live". +! Jan 14, 2015 at 6:56
  • @Man_From_India - thank you! But I'm not sure whether it would be really wrong to use "to live" there. It's classed among dynamic verbs, according to my googling.. I'll wait for a native speaker's opinion. Jan 14, 2015 at 7:32
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    hmm that's true. Let's wait for them. But logically we should not here use "to live", only because of "by now". That is exactly what you said, and I second that. Jan 14, 2015 at 8:12
  • Is there any situation we could use "to live by now"?
    – nima
    Jan 14, 2015 at 14:27
  • We're waiting for native speakers.
    – nima
    Jan 14, 2015 at 14:29

I had hoped to be living in our new house by now.

The sentence is approximately equivalent to "I had hoped that we would have been fully moved in, unpacked, and settled into the new house by now."

The ongoing aspect suggests the normalcy of a day-to-day routine.

Are you living in your new house yet?
--Hardly. We're moved in, but we've only unpacked the necessities and have plenty of work ahead of us before we're fully settled in.

What's your oldest child up to these days?
--She's married now, and living in Texas.

The implication is that she moved to Texas long enough ago to be settled into her new life there.

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    The question, as edited, is also concerned with the use of to live in the same sentence, whether it is valid in the sentence, and what is the difference between it and to be living. Nov 5, 2016 at 18:10
  • Have at it, then, my friend. Have at it.
    – TimR
    Nov 5, 2016 at 18:11
  • So you won't proffer an opinion as to the felicity of to live in the sentence? Nov 5, 2016 at 18:12
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    @Rathony: there's nothing special about that sentence. It's idiomatic and hardly uncommon. google.com/…
    – TimR
    Nov 5, 2016 at 18:58
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    to be living is quite popular and you're very wrong.
    – TimR
    Nov 5, 2016 at 19:12

You can use either the to-infinitive to live or to be + -ing form (to be living) after the verb hope, with a little difference in meaning.

You can use the to-infinitive to imply that you had hoped you would live in your new house by this time (the time of your speaking), of course; you didn't start living). On the other hand, the usage of to be living Implies that you had hoped that you would be living in your new house by this time; it indicates the action of living already in progress.

So the use of the to-infinitive or to be (infinitive) + the -ing form of the verb depends on whether you convey the sense of the action that would happen or that would be already happening.

  • Helpful. Useful. Thanks for addressing both infinitives, which the OP has made clear is his/her main concern (and which is why I started the bounty). I can't give an upvote just yet as, native speaker that I am, I'm still ruminating on whether to live is grammatical here, or at least idiomatic. It still sounds a bit off. Nov 8, 2016 at 19:07
  • Alan Carmack, I appreciate your comments.
    – Khan
    Nov 9, 2016 at 4:15

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