I see that both of these seem to translate to the noun hope. What is the difference between them, if any? It seems that one gives espérance but has espoir.

4 Answers 4


Espoir seems to be more focused, and more tangible. Espérance refers more to a state of mind, more like optimism. Espoir is widely used in French, as opposed to espérance which is a not-so-used word.

ex. J'espère (j'ai l'espoir) que le repas sera bon (I hope the meal will be good). vs Il est plein d'espérance (he is full of hope)

  • 3
    I would add that espérance applies in religious or spiritual contexts.
    – Whelp
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 11:07

while "espoir" (https://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/espoir) -which is the "Déverbal" of "espérer"- is a neutral,abstract,down-to-earth and everyday life word,"espérance"(https://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/esp%C3%A9rance) is formal and more focused on the action by itself...

In deed,"espérance" can be split into the stem that comes from "espérer" plus the sufix "-ance" which gives all the nuance to that word :the sufix "-ance" indicates an action or the result of an action (https://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/-ance). "espérance" is widely used in theological literacy and mathematics :

l'espérance mathématique d'une variable aléatoire réelle est, intuitivement, la valeur que l'on s'attend à trouver, en moyenne, si l'on répète un grand nombre de fois la même expérience aléatoire


Finally,i dare say that "espérance"" is for situations in which we are sure about the result while "espoir" has a nuance of great uncertainty.


Espoir est horizontal, espérance est vertical. Espoir is horizontal (concrete, grounded, material...), while espérance is vertical (spiritual, inspirational, greater...)


Correct usage is L'espérance de vie and not L'espoir de vie that could help clarify usage for both. That's how I came to this anyway, always thought the correct term was "espoir de vie"

  • L'espérance de vie (futur) est d'environ quatre-vingt ans, avec l'espoir d'une vie (matérielle) meilleure grâce aux progrès de la médecine
    – Personne
    Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 13:28

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