the difference between words: expect and look forward to

look forward

The other day I received a message from someone that said, “I’m expecting your reply”. This sentence could be correct in some situations, but it’s not what the person wanted to say. He should have written, “I’m looking forward to your reply.” So today, I will write about the difference between “expect” and “look forward to”.

We use “expect” when we want to say that we have information that makes us believe a certain thing will happen. We use “look forward to” when we want to say that we think a certain thing will happen and that we are very pleased about it. Therefore, “look forward to” sounds very happy and positive, but “expect” doesn’t sound emotional at all. Let me give you some examples:

I’m expecting a phone call from Mr. Kane from ABC Company. Please let me know as soon as he calls.

I expect June will bring a chocolate cake to the party because that’s what she always brings.

I expect the price of gas will go up soon because oil reserves have gone down.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the new Johnny Depp movie! It’s supposed to be really good!

I’m looking forward to meeting you in person. I’ll see you on Friday when I come to New York.

I’m really looking forward to my vacation! I’m going to Spain this year!

It’s important to note that in my example sentences above, I used the present progressive tense: “I’m looking forward to”, but it’s also possible to use the simple present tense: “I look forward to”. The difference is that when we use the simple present tense, it sounds much more formal. For example:

I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your attention.

I look forward to meeting you and your business colleagues.

We look forward to doing business with you.

Therefore, we use “looking forward to” in casual conversations and writing, and we use “look forward to” in formal business conversations and writing.

Also, please note that we always use the -ing form of a verb or a noun after “to” in these sentences.


1 Comment »

  1. Kana Said:

    Hello Mike,
    my name is Kanako(kana) from near Nagoya, and an English teacher in my private english class. This is so pleased to know you,
    this is the first time to read your lesson, and sooo easy to understand 😉 thank you so much.
    now I teach in English for kids range from 4yrs-old to 11yrs-old. Learning english is so fun, they enjoy much, but also hard to keep on for me.Teaching is also learning I think.
    Thank you,
    luv peace and music


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