Spanish word of the week: esperar

esperar VERB to wait, to wait for; to expect; to hope

“You can’t always get what you want”, at least not immediately, and so you might have to wait for it. If so, you need the verb esperar.

Estamos esperando más noticias. We’re waiting for further news.

You can also use esperar with a grammatical object, in which case the translation is simply to wait:

Espere un momentito, si es tan amable. Would you mind waiting a moment?

When you are waiting to do something, you use a between esperar and the following verb:

Estaba esperando a salir al escenario. I was waiting to go on stage.

But when you are waiting for someone else to do something, that is, expecting them to do something, the verb after esperar needs to go in the subjunctive:

Esperaba que les pidiera perdón. They were expecting him to apologize.
No esperaba que te comportases de ese modo. I wasn’t expecting you to behave like that.

When it means to hope, esperar is one of the classic cases of a Spanish verb which requires the subjunctive in the following clause:

Espero que le guste el regalito. I hope he likes the present.
Esperamos que no sea nada grave. We hope it’s nothing serious.

When the person doing the hoping and carrying out the action are the same, you don’t need to use the subjunctive. Instead, you use the infinitive:

Espera no llegar muy tarde. He hopes he won’t arrive very late.
(= He hopes and he won’t arrive late.)

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