hope: want something to happen and think that it is possible
(1) I hope (that) you’re okay.
(2) Detectives are hoping (that) witnesses will come forward. (OALD)

It seems that ‘hope’ is used in both the possibilities, future and present. That is, (1) can denote that ‘I hope you are okay now’ or ‘I hope you will be okay in the future’ In the same line, (2) can be rephrased like this: ‘Detectives are hoping witnesses come forward.’

Are my imagination permitted in English word, hope?

  • 1
    Is your question whether "hope" can be used referring to the past, present or future? Your question "Are my imagination permitted in English word, hope?" needs to be more specific.
    – user3169
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 2:24
  • Hope expresses a wish. No matter if it relates to past, present, or future. I hope she was not in pain. I hope it has been fixed. I hope tomorrow will be sunny.
    – TimR
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 15:20

2 Answers 2


In 1, my hope is occurring now, regarding an event in the present (that you are okay.) It could also refer to an event in the past or future.


You're telling me a story about a dangerous activity your brother engaged in in the past, and before you finish I interrupt with:

I hope that he was okay.

You called to tell me that your brother has crashed his car. I reply:

I hope that he is okay.

You tell me that your brother is going to have to have heart surgery. I reply:

I hope that he will be okay.

In all three versions the action of me hoping occurs at the time that the sentence was spoken, but the event that my hope is focused on need not happen at the same time.

In 2, "are hoping" is used to say that the action, hoping, is continuous. That is, the detectives hoped that witnesses will come forward and they continue to hope that witnesses will come forward. Here, because the action is continuous, it will usually refer to the future, though it could refer to a present (possibly continuous) action as well, or a past event whose outcome was uncertain.

She is hoping that her brother recovers quickly after surgery.
She is hoping that her brother recovers/is recovering quickly after surgery.
She is hoping that her brother recovered quickly after surgery.

In all three the action of hoping is continuous, that is, she hopes now and will continue to hope in the near future.


Hope is always about something you don't know. It doesn't matter if the thing you don't know already happened, is happening now, or will happen in the future; the fact is that at the time of utterance, the speaker does not know and so the time of knowing is always in the future.

I hope you had a good trip last week - I know you went on a trip but I don't know whether it went well or not. Maybe you'll tell me about it now.

I hope it's not too crowded at the restaurant. We're headed there now, and I don't know how long I'll have to wait. I'll find out when we get there.

I hope it doesn't rain for our party next week. I don't know what the weather will be like next week. We'll find out next week.

Note that if you already know about somwething then your hope for your future knowing may turn into a regret/wish about the past:

I wish your trip had gone better.

I wish it wasn't so crowded tonight.

I wish it wasn't forecast to rain next weekend.

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