I know that there have been other posts about properly translating the verb esperar, but I am still feeling unsatisfied with the answers. I came up with the following question that I think gets to the heart of the confusion.

How would you translate into Spanish the following sentences?

I don't expect him to wait for me but I hope he does.

I hope he doesn't wait for me but I expect him to.

On the other hand, how would you translate into English the title of my post?

I'm asking this not to be overly nit-picky, but because I often find myself in situations where I need to say something about expecting, waiting, or hoping, and feel like I could be badly misunderstood if I don't express it correctly. (I'm from New York and currently in Mexico working a new job I got down here ... so my Spanish skills are very important.)

  • The sentence in the title is not grammatically correct. It should say ... pero espero que *lo haga*, so I don't think it applies here to translate it into English.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 9:56
  • @fedorqui yes, but I think the main confusion is about the verbs expect, hope and wait all being translated as esperar.
    – Charlie
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 9:58
  • Related question: esperar: wait vs. hope vs. expect.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 9:59
  • @CarlosAlejo yes, I see. Only that as stated now it is a bit confusing (and off topic) to ask for a translation into English, so I would remove that part. Yes, the confusion among expect, hope and wait being translated as esperar is big, probably the related linked question is a good starting point.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 10:01
  • @fedorqui Thanks, I have corrected the title. As I mentioned I have seen the other posts on this and found them insufficient. To get to the heart of the matter, I'm focusing on sentences where all 3 of the verbs "wait, hope, expect" appear in one sentence. It's not that I need the sentence in the title translated, but more that I wonder which of the possible interpretations a Spanish-speaking person would be likely to take.
    – j0equ1nn
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 21:19

1 Answer 1


You only have to see the first three meanings of esperar to see the confusion:


Del lat. sperāre.

  1. tr. Tener esperanza de conseguir lo que se desea.
  2. tr. Creer que ha de suceder algo, especialmente si es favorable.
  3. tr. Permanecer en sitio adonde se cree que ha de ir alguien o en donde se presume que ha de ocurrir algo.

The first meaning is the definition of to hope. The second one is the definition of to expect. And finally the third one is the definition of to wait. If you do not want to use the same verb for every case, let's try to search some synonyms:

So you can translate your sentences as:

I don't expect him to wait for me but I hope he does = No confío en que me espere, pero ojalá lo haga. / No confío en que me espere, aunque tengo la esperanza [de que así sea].

I hope he doesn't wait for me but I expect him to = Deseo que no me espere, aunque tengo esa expectativa. / Ojalá no me espere, pero estoy seguro de lo que hará.

About translating into English, that is not the main subject of this site. Just bear in mind fedorqui's comment about what would be the proper sentence (lo haga instead of le hace).

  • Thanks for this, it does help. For a while I had thought I'd resolved my issue by using the words esparanza y expectativa, but discovered that they often sound weird in trying to say things like this. Your translations are better. I would just remark that the expression estoy saguaro de lo que hará is not equivalent to saying "I expect him to" because it declares certainty.
    – j0equ1nn
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 21:24
  • Regarding translating the title.. I get that this site isn't about translating Spanish into English. But can you comment on whether it would be more likely interpreted like my first sentence or my second one?
    – j0equ1nn
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 21:26
  • 1
    @j0equ1nn I understand the sentence of the title as "no confío en que me vaya a esperar, pero ojalá lo haga". So your first English sentence matches the title.
    – Charlie
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 21:32

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