Verb Mistakes #4: Hoping If

By Maeve Maddox

A sales letter from a company that produces an “educational keyboarding program” brought a peculiar clause construction to my attention:

We’re hoping if you’d be interested in taking a look at it.”

The verb are hoping leads me to expect a noun clause, with or without an expressed that:

We’re hoping that you’d be interested in taking a look at it.

or,

We’re hoping you’d be interested in taking a look at it.

The word if can introduce a noun clause with certain verbs, such as see, ask, tell, learn, doubt, wonder, and know:

Let me know if you can help me.

Gloria doubts if she will win the Pulitzer.

I wonder if today’s English teachers have read Black Beauty.

The verb hope, however, calls for a noun clause beginning with that (expressed or implied):

I hope that you can help me on Saturday.
I hope you can help me on Saturday.

Searching the Web, I found several examples of this nonstandard usage of if. Here are three:

Incorrect: Being that you’re an industry expert, I was hoping if there were any tips or advice you can give to an aspiring Animation Series creator.
Correct : Being that you’re an industry expert, I was hoping there were some tips or advice you can give to an aspiring Animation Series creator.

Incorrect: We are hoping if someone could tell us if this resort has a lively crowd and if it is too far from the main strip.
Correct : We are hoping someone could tell us if this resort has a lively crowd and if it is too far from the main strip.

NOTE: The word if occurs three times in this sentence. Only the first if is incorrect. The other two clauses are direct objects the verb tell, which can introduce a noun clause that begins with if.

Incorrect: I’m hoping if you can go over the paper with me and help make sure that what I’m saying makes sense. 
Correct : I’m hoping you can go over the paper with me and help make sure that what I’m saying makes sense. 

The “hoping if” error may arise from the fact that the writer politely wishes to acknowledge the uncertainty of a favorable reply, not realizing that the word hope in itself is sufficient to express uncertainty.

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7 Responses to “Verb Mistakes #4: Hoping If”

  • Connie

    I believe that the real correction would be to change the word “hoping” to “wondering”. Simply removing the “if”, whether or not “that” is inserted, still leaves the sentence in an awkward state. Would it not also be necessary to change “you’d” (you would) to “you will”? Either way, the tentativeness of this sentence, even after correction, makes for a poor sales pitch. At least, I’m not buying it.

  • David Knuttunen

    I think the error probably does come from confusion with “wonder”, combined with general illiteracy. I don’t think I agree with the previous commenter, though, that changing “hope” to “wonder” would be a better correction than changing “if” to “that.” “I wonder if…” implies a significantly different intentional stance than “I hope that…” As for “would” vs. “will”, I didn’t look it up, but I assume this is because “hope” takes the subjunctive.

  • Connie

    I still think one hopes that something will happen; not that something would (possibly) happen. If the sentence read, “We WERE hoping, if you would be interested in doing so, you would take a look at it”, I believe it would be a correct way to express the writer’s intention (that, being a less assertive and tentative approach). Otherwise, I can’t tell if the company is hoping that the reader will actually take a look (a fair assumption), or that the reader might only have enough interest to do so. As this comes from a company attempting to sell educational material, they should consider me to be a hopeless cause in this endeavor; no ifs, ands, buts, or thats!

  • thebluebird11

    A bit off topic, but I would have been thrashed soundly if I had started a sentence with “Being that…” What is the deal with that phrase these days? is it acceptable now?

  • Connie

    Being that you are a bit off topic…. and, that being said…. These both make me cringe. “That being said” is nothing more than a signal that the other shoe is about to drop when used in most of the correspondence I receive, and the writer could just as well have said, “BUT”, instead. I don’t know the origin of “insofar as”, either, but I do use it occasionally. My favorite, however, is “which ‘n ever”(way).

  • PreciseEdit

    Hoping that (not if)
    Wondering whether (not if)

    “If” is grossly misused.

  • PreciseEdit

    Correct: See whether (or not)…
    Incorrect: See if…

    Correct: Ask whether (or not)…
    Incorrect: Ask if…

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