When it comes to tell what is the next move or states of someone, which one of these two words are more appropriate?

A couple of examples :

You go for a job interview and you don't get a good feedback, which sentence in your opinion is more proper :

  • I don't expect them to call me
  • I predict that they don't call me

Someone is watching his very favorite football match, you know there is a high chance that his team to be defeated and he will be disappointed after the game, which sentence is more proper :

  • I expect him to get disappointed after the game.
  • I predict him to get disappointed after the game

You see someone eat junk food everyday and don't move, you know if he countines like that he will gains fat, which is the more proper sentence to describe his future :

  • I expect him to get fat soon
  • I predict him to get fat soon

3 Answers 3


Expect implies that you assume and have no doubt something will happen in the future (mentally-based).

Predict implies that you are putting all your chips on a specific result; like gambling on a horse race and picking a winner. You know there's a chance your horse may not win but you think it will (based on knowledge and experience).

You can predict that an underdog horse will win while expecting that the favorite horse will win.

  • Thanks, so basically expecting is to be 99 percent certain about something and predicting mean 50-60 percent, so they just describe different degrees of certainties. Am I right? Nov 18, 2016 at 17:00
  • Not necessarily. They aren't mutually exclusive. Something can be both a prediction and an expectation. An emotional/mental decision could also turn out to be the calculated one.
    – Hank
    Nov 18, 2016 at 17:05

Expectations are somewhat emotionally generated, whilst predictions are rather based on reason and calculations, as far as my understanding goes.

What's more, I wouldn't say I "predict someone to do something".

(I'm not a native, so it may just be that I have never heard such usage... Anyway, I'd tell you to stick to "predicting (that) something will happen".)

"Expect" can be used both ways.

  • We can't use" predict" with someone? Are you sure? We can't say I predict him to win the election. for example? Nov 18, 2016 at 17:04
  • You can use predict with people. I predict he will punch with his right hand because his left hand is hurt. That's a prediction based on reasoning and calculations.
    – Hank
    Nov 18, 2016 at 17:06
  • @Hank My comment was merely on sentence structuring: You are yourself using an entire sentence (he will punch with his right hand) as the object of the verb "predict" - not "I predict him to punch..."... As I said, I might be wrong on this one, but it sounds really infrequent, to say the least...
    – m.a.a.
    Nov 18, 2016 at 17:11
  • @m.a.a. I would agree with your original comment only if the sentence lacks the reasoning. This is because, without the reasoning, one can assume the reasoning is emotional. I expect he will punch you is different than I predict he will punch you because you insulted his wife.
    – Hank
    Nov 18, 2016 at 17:16
  • @Hank My point exactly. (Syntax aside for now). Your prediction is still reasonable even as you take into account emotional motives that may lead people to a certain action... As for your example, I don't really get it. If you predict that the underdog will win, you do expect the underdog to win: betting on it would be reasonable to you, regardless of other people's expectations. If you bet on it without expecting it to win, then you are merely an irrational gambler, not even bothering to make any predictions at all.
    – m.a.a.
    Nov 18, 2016 at 17:22

'Expect' [regard (something) as likely to happen] refers to someone's thought about a likely event.

'Predict' [say or estimate that (a specified thing) will happen in the future or will be a consequence of something] refers to someone's forecast about a likely event.

You cannot predict something you have not pondered about, yet you can expect it.

I don't expect them to call me

Means I do not think this will happen.

I predict that they don't call me

Means I declare or assess this will not happen.

Usually you predict what you have thought about and concluded it's likely. You expect what you feel is likely. For example, you might expect to win at a drawing since you would really like to win, yet you might predict you will not win since the odds are low.

In summary, both words express a likely future state. 'Expect' is what your heart tells you [someone may say the heart does not participate, it's your limbic brain] and 'predict' is what your intellect tells you.


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