What's the difference: We had hoped 'to live/to be living' in our new house by now...



We had hoped to live/to be living in our new house by now, but the builders are still working on it.

UPDATED: I mean what is semantically the difference between to live and to be living there?

Why don't we use living or just to live there instead?

What is more, would you show me a resource for using such a structure – bold part?


Posted 2015-01-14T05:48:42.427

Reputation: 5 551

3To those who have been engaged in an edit war, please desist. The moderation team would rather see this question get answered than locked. – J.R. – 2016-11-06T09:33:38.110

Both hope + *that-clause* as well as hope + to + verb-infinitive is possible. Also hope + for + something is possible. Please consult a good dictionary and a usage dictionary. I used http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/hope_1 to check the usage of hope.

– Man_From_India – 2015-01-14T06:01:57.340

to be living/to live is possible. But to be live is ungrammatical. living is an adjective in to be living, while to live is an infinitive construction. – Man_From_India – 2015-01-14T06:37:16.637



We had hoped to be living in our new house by now, but the builders are still working on it.
(Why don't we use living or just to live there instead?)

The verb to hope uses the particle to when it connects to another verb in the infinitive form:

I hoped to play. (Not "I hoped play")

In other words, it takes an "infinitive complement". That's why you need that to.

Be living uses the so-called continuous or progressive aspect. This aspect is created by using [BE + Present Participle]: [be + living]. So you need that be.

The progressive aspect is used for actions that are ongoing at the time in question. The moment in time mentioned in your sentence is "by now". So, the meaning is "We had hoped that by this moment in time, we would be living in our new house".

Why not "live"? The phrase "by now" invites the use of a "dynamic" verb, a verb that expresses an action. When we use the simple form "live", it denotes a more permanent, long-lasting situation. In other words, the verb "live" acts like a "stative verb":

I hoped to live. (very "stative": I hoped to be in the state of being alive)
I hoped to live in a castle. (less "stative")
I hoped to be living in a castle by January 1, 2015. (more "dynamic")


Posted 2015-01-14T05:48:42.427

Reputation: 36 949

I am a native speaker. To be living is correct. The explanation above is clear, complete, and correct. – Richard Kayser – 2016-11-04T21:24:42.520

You need to note that progressive aspect is usually and more often than not used to indicate future action. Using by now seems to support my explanation. – None – 2016-11-05T19:05:35.163

Why does the phrase by now invite the use of a dynamic verb? I don't suppose there can be more of a stative verb than to be, yet We had hoped to be in our new house by now is as felicitous as it gets. – Alan Carmack – 2016-11-06T16:13:26.523

The answer has nothing to do with whether live is stative or not. Live is dynamic in this context. – Alan Carmack – 2016-11-07T17:45:40.350

1Nice explanation considering the aspect of transition. And also why not "to live". +! – Man_From_India – 2015-01-14T06:56:05.447

@Man_From_India - thank you! But I'm not sure whether it would be really wrong to use "to live" there. It's classed among dynamic verbs, according to my googling.. I'll wait for a native speaker's opinion. – CowperKettle – 2015-01-14T07:32:36.000

1hmm that's true. Let's wait for them. But logically we should not here use "to live", only because of "by now". That is exactly what you said, and I second that. – Man_From_India – 2015-01-14T08:12:00.327

Is there any situation we could use "to live by now"? – nima – 2015-01-14T14:27:54.027

We're waiting for native speakers. – nima – 2015-01-14T14:29:05.800


I had hoped to be living in our new house by now.

The sentence is approximately equivalent to "I had hoped that we would have been fully moved in, unpacked, and settled into the new house by now."

The ongoing aspect suggests the normalcy of a day-to-day routine.

Are you living in your new house yet?
--Hardly. We're moved in, but we've only unpacked the necessities and have plenty of work ahead of us before we're fully settled in.

What's your oldest child up to these days?
--She's married now, and living in Texas.

The implication is that she moved to Texas long enough ago to be settled into her new life there.


Posted 2015-01-14T05:48:42.427

Reputation: 116 610

1The question, as edited, is also concerned with the use of to live in the same sentence, whether it is valid in the sentence, and what is the difference between it and to be living. – Alan Carmack – 2016-11-05T18:10:49.247

Have at it, then, my friend. Have at it. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-11-05T18:11:28.973

So you won't proffer an opinion as to the felicity of to live in the sentence? – Alan Carmack – 2016-11-05T18:12:56.240

I don't have the time to justify the answer I would give, which is that "We had hoped to live in our new house by now" is marginally grammatical/ungrammatical. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-11-05T18:15:35.287

I agree with your answer. I wonder how many native speakers would say "I had hoped to be living...". – None – 2016-11-05T18:49:23.797

@Rathony: I would think a decent plurality, but not a majority. I'm referring to the past perfect. A majority would say "to be living", because "I had hope to live in our new house by now" is not quite grammatical. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-11-05T18:53:44.513


@Rathony: there's nothing special about that sentence. It's idiomatic and hardly uncommon. https://www.google.com/search?q=%22hoped%20to%20be%20living%22&tbm=bks&lr=lang_en

– Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-11-05T18:58:07.223

2to be living is quite popular and you're very wrong. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-11-05T19:12:16.673

@TRomano what about the parallel I had hoped to kick his ass by now? Seems felicitous. – Alan Carmack – 2016-11-05T19:17:30.057

@Rathony: The past perfect is hardly rare, though perhaps one could say that the less educated the person, the less likely they are to use it. https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=as+I+had+hoped%2Cas+I+hoped&year_start=1985&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cas%20I%20had%20hoped%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Cas%20I%20hoped%3B%2Cc0

– Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-11-06T01:26:45.177

@Alan Carnack: The prepositional phrase by now refers to a span of time that culminates with the present moment. Coupled with the past perfect, I had hoped.... by now, it refers on the semantic level to an action that has not been initiated or completed, to a hope that has not materialized, and so the verb must support the sense of has-been-initiated or has-been-completed. We find neither sense in the infinitive "to live" in *I had hoped to live in the new house by now.* By contrast... – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-11-06T10:56:45.870

... the verb phrase "kick his ass" is understood to mean "to defeat soundly", which does convey the idea of completion. You do not defeat someone until you have defeated them. The speaker's sense of the verb's meaning in regard to actions initiated and actions completed determines whether the past perfect with "by now" will sound OK or odd. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-11-06T10:57:29.590


You can use either the to-infinitive to live or to be + -ing form (to be living) after the verb hope, with a little difference in meaning.

You can use the to-infinitive to imply that you had hoped you would live in your new house by this time (the time of your speaking), of course; you didn't start living). On the other hand, the usage of to be living Implies that you had hoped that you would be living in your new house by this time; it indicates the action of living already in progress.

So the use of the to-infinitive or to be (infinitive) + the -ing form of the verb depends on whether you convey the sense of the action that would happen or that would be already happening.


Posted 2015-01-14T05:48:42.427

Reputation: 26 261

Helpful. Useful. Thanks for addressing both infinitives, which the OP has made clear is his/her main concern (and which is why I started the bounty). I can't give an upvote just yet as, native speaker that I am, I'm still ruminating on whether to live is grammatical here, or at least idiomatic. It still sounds a bit off. – Alan Carmack – 2016-11-08T19:07:54.170

Alan Carmack, I appreciate your comments. – Khan – 2016-11-09T04:15:02.907