Sometimes, we talk about concrete things in language: “I am thirty years old.” “The United States is a country.” But other times, we speak about things we want or things that may or may not happen. For example, one phrase we may use is “in hopes of,” but is this grammatically accurate?
It is correct to say “in hopes of” when speaking about a thing you want to happen. You may see other prepositional phrase variations like “in hopes that” or “in the hope of.” Usually, “in hopes of” comes before a desired outcome or effect. For example, you could say, “In hopes of arriving sooner, they left early.”
Using “in hopes of” helps to show how an outcome depends on what happens first. Read on to see examples of what it means and how to use it.
What Does “In Hopes Of” Mean?
To figure out what “in hopes of” means, first, we must define the word hope. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the verb “hope” means “to want something to happen or to be true, and usually have a good reason to think that it might” (source).
We use the word hope in a lot of ways. For example, we may say, “I hope I get a good grade,” or, “They hope to visit next year.” These simple sentences are great ways to use “hope” on its own, but when we put it inside the prepositional phrase “in hopes of,” we need a little more clarification.
“In hopes of” expresses that there is a desired outcome or effect that depends on an action (source). Think of it as the answer to, “What are you hoping for, and what are you going to do to prepare for that thing?”
In our earlier example of using just the word “hope,” we said, “I hope I get a good grade.” If someone asked, “What are you going to do to get a good grade?” you might say, “I’m going to study every night.”
Using “in hopes of” allows you to put all that information into one sentence, answering the question before someone asks it. So, you could say, “I’m going to study every night in hopes of getting a good grade.”
A Fun, Famous Example
A variation of “in hopes of” appears in one of the most infamous poems of all time, “A Visit From St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore. If that doesn’t sound familiar, you may know it by its first line, “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
This favorite holiday poem includes the phrase “in hopes that” in its fourth line: “The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, / In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;” (source).
These two lines of poetry show that an action was performed to prepare for the desired outcome. For example, the poem’s main characters completed the common Christmas tradition of hanging stockings by the fireplace because they wanted Santa Claus to come straight down the chimney and fill them with exciting presents.
How Do You Use “In Hopes Of”?
“In hopes of” is grammatically correct as a prepositional phrase. Prepositions serve as locators of place and time (source). They’re essential words, but they need other words around them. “In hopes of” is not a full sentence, so there are other parts of speech you have to include with it.
On its own, you can consider the phrase “in hopes of” an idiom. While many different phrases are idioms, in this case, it refers to an expression where we use words grammatically unusually to convey a specific meaning (source).
All languages have idioms and come pretty naturally to many native speakers. However, understanding idioms can be difficult for non-native speakers because the words don’t always directly correlate to the meaning, and sometimes they’re grammatically unusual.
When Can You Use “In Hopes Of”?
Because “in hopes of” is an idiom, it’s best to use it in more casual writing or speaking. Remember that “in hopes of” should always be accompanied by a desired outcome. The phrase should look like “in hopes of,” then whatever you want to have happen.
“In hopes of” is a great alternative when discussing desires in a more casual setting. Using this phrase allows you to change your writing rather than use identical terms repeatedly. So much of what we write or speak is uncertain, and “in hopes of” helps to discuss these things.
This phrase can also help writing or speech flow better. Using “in hopes of” followed by a desired outcome can vary sentence structure and make it easier for a reader or listener to follow along, especially since it discusses effect and action all in one.
Using “In Hopes Of” in a Full Sentence
Whenever you use “in hopes of,” you must remember that it cannot stand alone and be grammatically accurate. It will be one phrase part of a larger sentence containing at least a subject and a verb.
A sentence using “in hopes of” can be thought of as containing three pieces. One is the prepositional phrase “in hopes of.” One is the desired outcome, whatever it is that is hoped for. The third is the action one takes to achieve that outcome.
These three pieces can be in various orders, but we always have to make sure our sentence contains a subject and verb.
There are a few examples of complete sentences below using “in hopes of.” The prepositional phrase and desired outcome is orange, the action is red, and the subject is black. As you can see, you can use “in hopes of” with sentences in the past or present tense.
- In hopes of playing well, the team practiced for an hour each day.
- She ran to the restaurant in hopes of getting there before it closed.
- The dog stands in the kitchen in hopes of snagging dropped food.
- In hopes of looking cool, he wore his new shoes.
When Not to Use “In Hopes Of”
Remember, “in hopes of” talks about things that are not concrete. If you’re talking about certain facts, avoid this phrase. You wouldn’t say, “I hope the U.S. has fifty states,” because you know that’s true. “In hopes of” is only for uncertainties.
Since it is an idiom, “in hopes of” also reads as more casual. If you are writing for high-level business or academia, you should consider other phrases.
Some more formal alternatives for “in hopes of” include “in order to,” “such that,” or “contingent upon.” While these express similar meanings, they are considered less casual than “in hopes of.” However, they don’t mean precisely the same thing, so you’ll want to make sure of your audience and intent when deciding what to use.
What Can You Use Instead of “In Hopes Of”?
As we saw in the poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” there are natural variations of “in hopes of.” These may include “in hopes that,” “in the hope of,” or even just “hoping.”
- Ben packed their lunch in hopes of not spending money eating out.
- Ben packed their lunch in hopes that they would not spend money eating out.
- Ben packed their lunch in the hope of not spending money eating out.
- Ben packed their lunch hoping they would not spend money eating out.
However, if you use “hoping” or “hope” on its own, it probably won’t contain all the same parts included in a sentence using “in hopes of.” It will consist of the desired outcome, but it won’t address how that outcome is being prepared for. When using “hope” on its own, you can include the action in a separate sentence.
As mentioned earlier, “in hopes of” is a prepositional phrase. Prepositions are hard to define on their own because they impact other words. It is helpful to remember that we usually use them to determine place or time. Some of the most common prepositions are “in,” “along,” “to,” “between,” “at,” “through,” “on,” and “with.”
Usually, a preposition comes in a sentence before a noun or pronoun and relates it to another part of the sentence (source). These phrases are tricky because a wrong preposition, even though it’s often a tiny word, can totally change the meaning of a sentence.
One good example of this concerns time. We use “on time” and “in time,” but they mean different things, even though they’re just one letter apart! To learn more about that, visit our article In Time vs. On Time: Choosing the Right Preposition for Time.
Another tricky thing with prepositions is that you can make them out of multiple words. “In hopes of” is an excellent example of that. Both “in” and “of” are prepositions on their own, but putting “hopes” between them makes the whole phrase a single, multi-word preposition unit.
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
Other examples of this are the phrases “in accordance to” and “in accordance with.” You can find more information about that prepositional phrase in our article “In Accordance With” or “In Accordance To”: Which is Correct?
While idioms like “in hopes of” can seem unusual to those learning English, it is a grammatically correct phrase when you use it with the other necessary parts of a sentence. It helps us discuss what we want and how we can get there.
Using “in hopes of” can help writing or speech flow and be clear. We’re glad to share this article in hopes of helping you use the phrase correctly!