3 comments on “hoffen vs. erhoffen

  1. There is a grammatical difference and a difference in meaning. Let’s look at the grammatical one first.

    Hoffen works like the English to hope. If you hope for things you need a preposition… in German it is auf.

    – I’m hoping for good weather.
    – Ich hoffe auf gutes Wetter.

    If your hopes are directed toward and action of some kind you can just add a dass-sentence.

    – Ich hoffe, dass du die Prüfung bestehst.
    – I hope that you pass the exam.

    And also the shortened version works.

    – Ich hoffe, du hattest eine gute Reise.
    – I hope you had a pleasent trip.

    Erhoffen on the other hand can take a direct object and it is basically always subjective

    – Ich erhoffe mir gutes Wetter.
    – I hope for good weather.

    It doesn’t really work without mir. Also for erhoffen, you can add a dass-sentence:

    – Ich erhoffe mir, dass….

    And now on to the difference in meaning… it is hard to describe the er-prefix without gestures but on a very abstract level it has a vibe of pulling something toward yourself. A good example is erarbeiten.

    – Er hat sich ein kleines Vermögen erarbeitet.

    So he worked worked worked until he had a small fortune. He pulled pulled pulled until what he wanted was in reach.
    This vibe is also in erhoffen… so you hope hope hope until you get it. Of course this makes limited sense because you can hope for the ability to look through clothes all you want without ever getting it but it is the vibe that matters. So erhoffen is somewhat stronger and deeper than hoffen and the disappointment will be greater if you don’t get it.
    In daily talk, hoffen is waaaaay more common, so I’d say just use this one and keep erhoffen in your passive vocab.
    Hope that helps :)

  2. Anonymous says:

    that hepls alot

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