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"You are supposed to pay your taxes"

This could mean that you should pay your taxes, under obligation. It could also mean that someone (probably the speaker) has presumed that you do pay your taxes.

"You are expected to pay your taxes"

Again, this could mean that you should pay your taxes, under obligation. It could also mean that someone (probably the speaker) has presumed that you do pay your taxes.

I've always been fascinated, and annoyed, at the dual meaning of "expect". The presumptive meaning of "suppose" is rare in modern English, so this parallel hasn't been clear to me until recently.

Why would these two different words be synonymous for two different pairs of meanings?

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    Because sposta and expected to are modals, and all modals have both a deontic sense -- obligation -- and an epistemic sense -- assumed/predicted. Just like must can be "obliged" as in You must attend the meeting (deontic), but also "assumed/predicted" as in This must be the place (epistemic). Apr 14, 2015 at 2:40
  • @JohnLawler that's an excellent answer. Why post as a comment instead of an answer?
    – Sparr
    Apr 14, 2015 at 4:10
  • @JohnLawler: Please post that as an answer, unless you're saving answer #1000 for a special question ;)
    – Tushar Raj
    Apr 14, 2015 at 8:50
  • @Tushar: Already done that, multiple times. I get tired of repeating myself. Since nobody finds official answers, I see no reason to differentiate them from comments, which nobody finds, either. Apr 14, 2015 at 14:06
  • @JohnLawler expecting me to know the words "modal" and "deontic" when searching for an answer to this problem is ridiculous.
    – Sparr
    Apr 14, 2015 at 14:19

1 Answer 1

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Because sposta and expected to are modals, and all modals have both a deontic sense -- obligation -- and an epistemic sense -- assumed/predicted. Just like must can be "obliged" as in You must attend the meeting (deontic), but also "assumed/predicted" as in This must be the place (epistemic).

Quoted from @JohnLawler's comment on this question.

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