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There are some questions related to this topic (Usage of "expect to" and "expectation to/of" and "Need of" vs. "need for"), but I haven't found one directly addressing this word combination.

I'm trying to determine whether I should use "expectations of" or "expectations for," in the following:

I had to reevaluate my expectations of myself.

I had to reevaluate my expectations of college.

I had to reevaluate my expectations of the future.

OR

I had to reevaluate my expectations for myself.

I had to reevaluate my expectations for college.

I had to reevaluate my expectations for the future.

Is one more grammatically correct than the other in all cases (regardless of the type of noun that follows)? Or, are they both correct in different cases; if so, what are they? Thanks.

  • It depends what follows. "my expectations of myself"; "my expectations for the match/game". A simple dictionary search will answer your question: I sat down in expectation *of a feast of nostalgia. Students had high expectations for their future.* – TrevorD Jul 1 '16 at 23:11
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    Have you looked at the definitions of 'of' and 'for'? of: expressing the relationship between a part and a whole. for: suiting the purposes or needs of. ------With these definitions in mind, 'for' seems like the more natural choice here. Also, if you eliminate the 'myself' in your sentences, you'll see that the objects 'college' and 'future' can't have 'expectations', so 'of' makes no sense in this context. – user180089 Jul 1 '16 at 23:20
  • @TrevorD, I fail to see much distinction between "A strong belief that something will happen..." and "A belief that someone will... achieve something." Is the difference that one is used for a person and another for an event? In that case, you used "expectation of myself" (a person), and the dictionary uses "expectation of a feast" (an event). – vpn Jul 1 '16 at 23:26
  • I wasn't referring to the 'definitions', but to the example sentences (as I thought I made clear by quoting the relevant examples). If you expand the example sections, you will also see examples with expectations that, and some with no following preposition. It's what follows the word "expectations" that determines the wording. It's not as simple as saying one is for a person, one for an event, etc.. I can't give any clear rules off-hand: sometimes it's obvious; sometimes there may be a choice; ... . – TrevorD Jul 1 '16 at 23:36
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    Also consider the prepositions 'about', 'concerning', and 'regarding'. These are even more specific than 'of' and 'for'. In order of specificity from least to most I would say it goes:................................of-->for-->about-->regarding-->concerning – user180089 Jul 2 '16 at 0:21
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Etymologically the verb, 'to expect' is derived from Latin 'ex' and 'spectare' meaning 'look thoroughly' or 'look out for'. From here originates its figurative meaning, ' anticipate' or ' look forward to '. Moreover, 'to expect' is a transitive verb object of which can be a being, a thing or that- front-end subordinate clause. Hence, EXPECTATION, the noun form is really steady with the preposition 'of'. Of course, there are uses of 'for' as well.

  • Our expectations of material gains
  • An infinite expectation of dawn
  • I have a great expectation for Tom of winning.
  • You must meet the expectations of the parents.

The comments above have proved, beyond doubt, that the word has no bias for any particular preposition. Before taking up the two sets of examples, contention same, only prepositions changed < ' of ' to ' for '> we would roughly attempt to diagnose the changes in meaning.

  • Expectation of : desired result already formulated (subjective)

  • Expectation for : anticipated result in store with the future.( objective)

The first set of examples with use of preposition 'of' means a) if I can give the best of my ability, b) fulfil what my Alma mater expects of me, and c) what future has in store for me.

With the use of preposition 'for' the focus of attention shift from the perspective of the do-er to the perspective of end results. The observations become objective and anticipation of the unforeseen usurps the centre stage. Here Expectations are the yardsticks already set apart to which to which my personal judgement would be applied.

All the sentences are grammatical with markèd shift in meaning.

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The two mean slightly different things. "Expectations of something" means what you expect that something to do or achieve. "Expectations for something" are more vague and only mean expectations in that area.

So "expectations of college" might be that it would provide me with the education I need to start my career. "Expectations for college" might be that I attend an ivy league school.

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{Edit:}

"Many nouns have common prepositions..." dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/about-nouns‌​/…

"Of" usually follows an example or a cause or to define units of a whole.

There is no determined way to express a noun+preposition combination in a sentence unless there are qualifying modifiers like a possessive pronoun or a verb or a participle following a preposition so "regardless of the noun used" is simply not possible because prepositions are fixed with nouns to be used only in a certain way.

{:end edit}

Some people tend to derive psychological aspects of a person from their usage of the language and one of the two forms - of - falls into that category.

For instance, the usage of -- of -- in conjunction with abstract nouns or entities might elicit or qualify for the psychological assessment, when the line "I had to reevaluate my expectations of college" because there is no pronoun to promote the abstract entity into a concrete form of life in which interactions could be judged or are possible is used, without a possessive pronoun for the noun.

Compare it with "I had expectations (or such high expectations) of my college..." which instantly highlights the stress on the word my to trigger a response and therefore, the sentence, because it communicates some intent and elicits a response, makes for a good form of communication.

Basically, your decision-making process must rely on the implicit messages - that crucial factor in effective communication - that your sentence carries.

So, "I had to reevaluate my expectations of college." sounds wrong English or a person suffering from literary malnutrition and may even communicate bad knowledge as the implicit message.

However, "I had to reevaluate my expectations of studying in a college." "I had to reevaluate my expectations of attending college." makes instant, communicative sense.

"I had to reevaluate my expectations of the future." would make sense if it is a reason given to some preceding act (with a because (nonfinite clause) preceding it) but independently used, as in this form, does not carry any value to what you want to communicate.

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    This does not address the question about the prepositions at all. – vpn Jul 17 '17 at 19:13
  • "Many nouns have common prepositions..." dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/about-nouns/… "Of" usually follows an example or a cause or to define units of a whole. There is no determined way to express a noun+preposition combination in a sentence unless there are qualifying modifiers like a possessive pronoun or a verb or a participle following a preposition so "regardless of the noun used" is simply not possible because prepositions are fixed with nouns to be used only in a certain way. – user2347763 Jul 17 '17 at 19:28
  • This information belongs in your answer, not a comment. – vpn Jul 17 '17 at 19:32
  • Cryptic what do you mean ??!? – user2347763 Jul 17 '17 at 19:43
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    @user2347763: What does what mean? “This information belongs in your answer, not a comment.” means that, if you have something to say that clarifies, completes, extends or defends your answer, you should click on edit and add the information to your answer, and not “add a comment.” – Scott Jul 17 '17 at 20:12

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