I was wondering how to use the verb "s'attendre" in different contexts.

  1. What is the difference between "s'attendre à ce que" and "s'attendre".
  2. If I wanted to say "my holiday was everything I expected it to be", or "what did you expect" would I need a relative pronoun i.e. "mes vacances était tout ______ je me suis attendu à l'être" or "à quoi est-ce que vous vous êtes attendu"?

1 Answer 1


1.There is no difference between the two verbal forms as far as meaning, except that "s'attendre" will introduce a noun or an infinitive clause and "s'attendre à ce que" introduces necessarily a subordinate clause. The passage from one to the other may entail however addition or removal of words with little meaning but necessary to the different syntax.

The meaning is the same in all sentences below.

Je m'attends à ce que la pénurie de ces produits tourne en catastrophe.
Je m'attends à voir tourner la pénurie de ces produits en catastrophe.
Je m'attends à une catastrophe amenée par la pénurie de ces produits.

  1. My holiday was everything I expected it to be.

There is much that is wrong with "Mes vacances était tout ______ je me suis attendu a l'être.", whatever you use to fill the blank with; first, there doesn't exist in French the idiomatic turn of the English sentence. You have then much freedom in the way of forms you can use to make a translation.

Mes vacances m'ont satisfait au mieux de ce que j'en attendait. (most faithfull rendering)
Mes vacances ont été aussi satisfaisantes que je les avais imaginées.

  1. What did you expect?

"À quoi est-ce que vous vous êtes attendu?" is wrong in reason of the tense;

À quoi est-ce que vous vous attendiez?

Using the alternative interrogatory form, you also have this:

"À quoi vous attendiez-vous?".

  • thanks. Yeah I honestly had no idea how to render my first example in french so what you see is my rought attempt. 3) follow ups: 1) why does 's'attendre a ce que' NECESSARILY introduce a subordinate clause 2) if I have understood correctly how to properly use the phrase, would I translate 'I went to france and it was exactly what i expected it to be', as '... ç'était exactement ce que j'en attendais' (of course, depending on the conversation, i can further express what 'exactly' i had expected i.e. il faisait aussi chaud que j'en attendais) Oct 31, 2018 at 15:34
  • 3) since the verb is 's'attendre' why is that we wouldn't say 'je m'en attandais' instead of 'j'en attendais', since the verb is reflexive? Oct 31, 2018 at 15:35
  • @Armaan 1) "à ce que" is a so called "locution conjonctive" (it's like "que" (conjonction)) and after those you must have a subordinate. 2) There are errors in the second part, but the real problem is diction: you change the context from "holiday" to "a country" and "attendre" in that case is (how could we say that?) too strong! It seem better to change your verb (something as "se figurer" for instance); that's is my personal point of view. 3) The verbal form based on "attendre" you mention is "s'attendre à qqc" and it means "suspect that smth is going to happen"t;
    – LPH
    Oct 31, 2018 at 16:13
  • @Armaan as it doesn't mean "expect" another verbal form is used and it happens that it is also based on "attendre"; it is "attendre de qqc", therefrom the pronoun "en" and the disappearance of the personal pronoun because it's not, as you can see, a pronominal verb form. This verbal form means "to expect" generally, but the expectation confered is of a somewhat greater level of exigence.
    – LPH
    Oct 31, 2018 at 16:26

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