Can "anticipate" be safely used as a substitute for "look forward to" in informal prose like emails and general correspondence, but also in business writing?


I'm anticipating to hear from you. http://419.bittenus.com/12/9/gracejohnson.html

I anticipate hearing from you. http://www.siue.edu/~tmarsha/

closed as primarily opinion-based by tchrist, anongoodnurse, Brian Hooper, FumbleFingers, Rory Alsop Feb 20 '14 at 8:36

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • If it's truly informal or "not so formal," couldn't you use whatever you'd like? – emsoff Feb 12 '14 at 0:42
  • 2
    I'm anticipating to hear ... is not acceptable. Anticipate cannot take an infinitive as an object. – bib Feb 12 '14 at 0:46
  • @bin Yes, it can. In AE at least... – Elian Feb 12 '14 at 1:07
  • 3
    have you considered that some colloquial forms of AmEng and BrEng are preferable to others? That some are best left to speech while others should not be used in formal writing? It seems to me that you have already made your mind up before asking any of these questions. In 21 questions I have yet to see one accepted answer from you. Don't be dismayed if people stop answering them. You barely thank them for even taking the trouble in any case! And you should learn how to embed your links, the links detract attention from the content. – Mari-Lou A Feb 12 '14 at 9:24

I would avoid it in informal writing in most cases. There are a few senses under which it could be understood as applying to "…hear from you", but most don't match very well.

I would avoid it even more carefully in formal writing, since in formal writing it is best to avoid any uses that are commonly considered incorrect.

Generally I would only anticipate that which I took action to prepare for, or that which I took action to prevent. E.g. I anticipate welcome visits by making sure I have food and drink to serve, and anticipate unwelcome visits by having a compound bow and some arrows under my bed, along with various other weapons around my house. I don't anticipate responses to correspondence, because there is nothing to do but wait for them to come.

  • How about if I say "I'm anticipating your prompt response or reply", can a phrasing like that work for business emails? – Elian Feb 12 '14 at 0:57
  • 2
    It's disputed; some people would say it's fine and some would say it's incorrect unless you are doing something about the expected response. Generally my descriptivist tendencies would lead me to say it's correct, but in formal writing it's perhaps best to avoid what is disputed (to not just be correct, but to be seen to be correct). For that reason, while I'd defend your choice to use it if you chose, I still would advise against it if you asked. – Jon Hanna Feb 12 '14 at 1:07
  • What if the people I'm writing to are American, is that sense of "anticipate" kind of more acceptable to their ears? – Elian Feb 12 '14 at 1:40

"Anticipate" feels a bit formal to me. "Await" or "eagerly waiting" might be a bit more informal.

Grammatically, yes, it is legal, and it's just a touch on the formal side, but I would probably still put it in an email to my grandma.

  • Which of the following intensifiers work best with "anticipate"? Eagerly, anxiously, very much, antsily ;)? – Elian Feb 12 '14 at 0:47
  • With anticipate? Usually, it doesn't need intensification (eagerly anticipate is a bit redundant), but it can be used with nervously or anxiously if you want to more finely express the emotion at hand. "Eagerly await" is in common use. NGrams result – KevinL Feb 12 '14 at 0:52
  • How about if I say "I can hardly wait for (or on) your reply or response, does that do the trick just as well? – Elian Feb 12 '14 at 1:03
  • That works fine. "I can hardly wait for your reply. Write back soon!" – KevinL Feb 12 '14 at 1:11
  • 1
    How about if I say "I just can't wait and hear from you guys" or "I can hardly wait to hear from you guys", or "I can hardly wait on (or for) you guys' reply", does that work just as fine...for casual emails and business writing at least ;)? – Elian Feb 12 '14 at 1:29

I'm not a native speaker, but I usually use anticipate to convey an expectation, or a prediction... or both, as in "I expect [this] to happen".

I'd consider foresee and the aformentioned expect as alternatives.

Look forward to on the other hand sounds "warmer" to me, as in "I can't wait for you to do this".

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.