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Senses of “esperar”

Avid learner

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Hi, I’m brand new here. I’m a native English speaker who studied Spanish and French for many years in high school and college. There are still some things that I have questions about and was hoping someone could help me with.

The verb “esperar”, my question is about when it means “hope” and when it means “expect”. To me these are very different things. “Hope” is something I would like to come true, but expect is a requirement and it not happening is completely unsatisfactory.

So if I say “Espero que...”, how do I know if that is being received as a desire (“hope”) or a requirement (“expect”), and how can I make sure I am communicating the sense I intend? I live in fear of being misunderstood and saying the completely wrong thing.

Thanks for any guidance on this!

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