I'm not a native English speaker and here in Brazil we have the word "expectativa" as a noun.

The expectative in English is defined as an adjective: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/expectative

But I haven't see yet the usage in this form, rather we see "expectation", which act as the Portuguese "expectativa" (expectation). We do have this word as adjective "expectante" as is the "expectant" in English, but not the "expectative" form.

So, in which case we use "expectative"?

EDITED: I've googled and found this one: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05712b.htm

An expectative, or an expectative grace, is the anticipatory grant of an ecclesiastical benefice, not vacant at the moment but which will become so, regularly, on the death of its present incumbent.

And this one: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X96000770

Expectative land rights, house consolidation and cemetery squatting: Some perspectives from Central Java

Can you clarify?

2 Answers 2


The best advice is 'Don't use it'. Your first example is a technical term in canon law, and there are various obsolete or obsolescent contexts where it can be used; but most English-speakers think (correctly), that the adjective from 'expect' is 'expectant' (for the person expecting) or 'expected'.

  • So, expectative is deprecated? Somewhere in the past was this form used with frequency? Mar 9, 2012 at 10:58
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    It was never common, but until the nineteenth century it was used enough to be understandable. It is vanishingly rare now (outside technical uses); IMHO, if you use it your listeners are more likely to think you have made a mistake than to be impressed. Mar 9, 2012 at 11:04

Expectative is an adjective not commonly used and expectation is a noun. For example,

The team has expectations of winning this time.

This article is about the team's expectative victory.

  • The second sentence means "the team's expectation for victory"? Mar 9, 2012 at 10:44
  • Yes, so it is the team's expectation for victory. Thank you for the usage example (+1) Mar 9, 2012 at 10:50
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    The OED's last citation for this ('expected') sense dates from 1653: the last citation meaning 'expectant' dates from 1870. Mar 9, 2012 at 10:55
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    @Keyne: No, they are not the same. In "the team's expectative victory", the team's victory is the object. In "the team's expectation for victory", the team's expectation is the object. Mar 9, 2012 at 11:24
  • @JohnBartholomew Got it. What about the semantics? It's not the same? Mar 9, 2012 at 15:28

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