Home » Improve Your Vocabulary » Expect, Wait for, or Look Forward to?

When to Use Expect, Wait for, Looking Forward to, Be Excited About, and Can’t Wait

Quick question: do you expect new videos from me? ?

Maybe what you actually want to say is that you are waiting for, looking forward to, are excited about, or can’t wait for new videos from me!

But first, let me give you some context.

As you may know, I practice yoga every day, and I love to check out yoga instructors on YouTube.

One morning, I scrolled down and saw that someone had commented, “I expect more quality videos from you.”

I immediately knew that that person wasn’t a native English speaker.

I was certain that wasn’t what they truly wanted to say – they were trying to show their appreciation for the awesome yoga channel!

In order to clarify, let’s talk about the differences between the verbs expect, wait for, looking forward to, be excited about, and can’t wait.

As you can see, there are several verbs that we use in order to express slightly different attitudes towards future events and possibilities.

The challenge comes for many people who are translating what they mean from their native language.

Because I speak Spanish and Portuguese, I recognize that “expect” is being used in place of an expression that would work a little bit better and clearly communicate the appropriate feeling or attitude.

When to Use the Verb “Expect”

First, let’s talk about the verb “expect.”

When we use “expect” in English, it means that we regard something as likely to occur or to happen.

For example, we may expect our relatives to visit during the holidays, because that’s what usually happens.

Or we expect them to agree – or disagree – with us based on our previous interactions.

But the other sense that we get from the verb “expect” is that we’ve decide that something is necessary or required.

When you say, “I expect new videos from you,” it actually sounds a little bit demanding! ?

It’s as if you’re saying, “I expect you to do this for me.” It’s a requirement.

This may be okay if your boss tells you, “I expect you to give me this report by 5PM” – after all, your boss is in a position of authority above you.

But it’s different if you’re telling someone who’s providing free yoga videos that you expect them to provide new videos!

Instead of sounding supportive, it sounds like a demand and doesn’t show the enthusiasm and appreciation that I know you feel! ?

Another way to think of this is to imagine how a teacher might expect good behavior from his or her students. Or how a manager may expect their employees to be punctual.

I hope these examples give you a clearer sense of what native speakers “hear” when you use the word “expect.”

It’s completely fine to say something like, “I expect my brother to arrive later today” when you have an idea that the person has a schedule and that they’re planning to arrive at a certain time.

Otherwise, using “expect” instead of one of these more appropriate expressions sounds “off.”

It’s a nuance, but it does sounds strange when you say, “I expect new videos from you.”

When to Use “Wait For”

Now let’s talk about “wait for.”

We use “wait for” when we’re trying to express the same idea as the verb “await.”

This is when we’re anticipating that something will happen, probably soon.

We tend to use “waiting for” when we can’t take another action until the first thing occurs.

For example, “I won’t go outside because I’m waiting for the rain to stop.”

Or you can say, “I’m waiting for the next season of my favorite TV show – it starts in September!”

Or you may be waiting for the plane to arrive so that you can enjoy a visit with your relatives.

This is generally how we’re going to use the verb “to wait for.”

If you’re using it in other contexts, read on, because there are other expressions that work much better for your meaning.

When to Use “Looking Forward To”

If you’re trying to show a positive emotion, such as a hope or desire for something, that’s when you’re going to use “looking forward to.”

Pay attention to the structure of “looking forward to” (to look forward to).

After “to,” you’ll need to use the -ing form of the verb (the gerund).

Here are some examples:

  • I’m looking forward to seeing you later today.
  • I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback.
  • I’m looking forward to watching more videos on your YouTube channel.

“Looking forward to” gives you that positive sense and emotion and shows that you’re actually excited about what the other person is going to provide.

I consider “look forward to” a very versatile expression; it shows a positive attitude towards the future in a wide variety of contexts.

For example, we often use “looking forward to” in professional situations because it shows more emotional restraint than “be excited about” and “can’t wait,” as you’ll learn below.

When to Use “Be Excited About”

If you want to show more emotion, you can use “be excited about.”

We used “excited about” to show high enthusiasm and eagerness.

You may say, “I’m excited about your new videos.”

This shows me that you really get energized about the possibility of watching my videos, which, of course, I love to hear.

However, there is a slight distinction between “looking forward to” and “excited about” that I want to clarify.

“Excited about” is most often used for something that is already scheduled or planned, such as the new season of a favorite TV show, an upcoming trip or travel plans, or a future concert, conference, or other interesting event or activity.

If you recently purchased a book or saw that a new video was published on your favorite YouTube channel, you may be excited about reading it or watching it tonight.

In these situations, you can also use “looking forward to,” which is what I recommend in the video lesson.

Here are some other examples:

  • I’m looking forward to the new season of my favorite TV show.
  • I’m looking forward to the movie coming out.
  • I’m looking forward to the weekend.
  • I’m looking forward to seeing you later.
  • I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.
  • I’m looking forward to watching more videos soon.

If you want to talk about the possibility of something happening, rather than the reality, “looking forward to” is often better than “excited about.”

For example, it would sound more natural to say “I’m looking forward to future videos from you” (because they don’t exist yet) and “I’m excited about watching your latest video” (because it’s already been published).

Like I said earlier, “looking forward to” is appropriate is most situations, so when in doubt, choose it.

When to Use “Can’t Wait”

Finally, another expression that is often used to express the same level of enthusiasm about the future as “looking forward to” and “excited about” is “can’t wait.”

“Can’t wait” shows happy emotions towards something that is going to happen in the future.

We use it with both “for” and “to.”

If you can’t wait for an event to happen, you’ll use “for”: I can’t wait for my birthday or I can’t wait for school to start.

If you can’t wait to do something, you’ll use “to”: I can’t wait to see you or I can’t wait to watch the sequel.

The idea is that the wait is causing more and more enthusiasm and emotion to the point that you’re bursting with excitement.

Keep in mind that “can’t wait” needs to be used with “for” or “to” in order to express this positive emotion.

If you’re speaking, make sure you show enthusiasm through your intonation!

Otherwise, the expression becomes literal and suggests that it’s impossible for you to wait because you don’t have time.

Lastly, “can’t wait for/to” can be used for both future possibilities and future plans. You can say “I can’t wait for your next video” and “I can’t wait for the concert this weekend.”

Your Turn

After these explanations, I encourage you to check your language and make sure you’re using the most appropriate verb to express your meaning.

Subtleties like these that really help you sound more natural when speaking English.

As you continue to advance, you want to choose the most appropriate language to express your meaning.

After reading this article and watching the video, I hope you understand how to use “expect,” “wait for,” and “looking forward to”, as well as how to use “excited about” and “can’t wait for.”

Now it’s your turn to practice! Leave a comment below the video and try out these different expressions. I’ll let you know how you did!

Want to learn more advanced strategies for discovering vocabulary? Find out how to improve your vocabulary naturally through the topics and resources that most interest you.

9 thoughts on “When to Use Expect, Wait for, Looking Forward to, Be Excited About, and Can’t Wait”

  1. Well it’s a very interesting lesson, where I’m learning hope to use and say looking forward for my next lesson from Kim. It opens your mind and clarified a lot of circumstances, when you are going to speak in a public English conversation. So many thanks for your so important videos and lessons you usually and never felt tired to speak hundred words, is amazing.-

    • Thanks for the comment, Miguel! I’m so glad to hear that this lesson helped you feel more confident about these often confusing expressions. I look forward to hearing your feedback on my next video!

  2. Dear Kim, i’m always exciting of your lectures and videos. I love the way you are demonstrating the lesson, congratulation dear. Let’s keep going, I love your lessons. Its doesn’t sounds like a comment, just an appreciation of your efforts (teaching) you are doing on me


    • I appreciate your appreciation! 😀 It’s so nice to hear that my style of teaching is helping guide you!

  3. Thank you for these wonderful examples and , most of all , for explaining these subtleties.I have resided in an English -speaking country for many years and although I think that my command of English is satisfactory , from time to time I have fleeting doubts about whether or not I am using the appropriate forms . You went to great lengths to enlighten readers like me and I thank you for that.
    All of the best to you and yours.

    • Thanks for the kind comment, Barbara! This concern is completely normal and is why I like to talk about the subtle differences between word choice. I’m happy to hear that this resource helped clarify your doubts!


Leave a Comment