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expect nothing more/less

Discussion in 'English Only' started by verastar, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. verastar Junior Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    The two phrases always make me confused...
    Which one means satisfied and which one means disappointed?
     
  2. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    If I say to a student "You have performed very well in this course. You got a perfect grade on the midterm exam. I expected nothing less of you," it means I am satisfied. I had high expectations of this student. He or she satisfied them.

    If I say "After leaving the detox program, he began using drugs again. I expected nothing more," it means I am disappointed. I had low expectations of this person. He, like the student in the first example, did what I expected, but in this case it is negative.

    However, the phrase "expected nothing more" is not always negative. "After he rescued their baby from the burning house, the parents thanked the bystander. The bystander, asked if he was satisfied with only their thanks after risking his life, said 'Anyone else would have done the same. I expected nothing more. I didn't do it for a reward.' "

    So, "expected nothing less" means I could have gotten less, but I didn't expect to. "Expected nothing more" means I could have gotten more, but I didn't expect to. In both cases the meaning of the phrase follows the logical meaning of the words in it.
     
  3. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    Neither one has exactly either of those meanings. "Expect nothing more" means that what has been described is the maximum you should expect:
    If you stay in a one star hotel, you will have a place to sleep, but expect nothing more -- there will be no room service, no internet access, and no fancy lotions and soaps in the bathroom.
    "Expect nothing less" means that what is named or described is the minimum you would expect. Note that it could be the minimum of something good, or the minimum of something bad:
    Sue: When Mary announced she was pregnant, Ivan said "Really? I thought you were getting fat. Does that mean I will have more work to do now because you will be out having the baby?"
    Sam: Well, Ivan is always so rude and so boorish, I would expect nothing less from him.
     
  4. verastar Junior Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    Thank you both so much!
    Is the following sentence right:
    The hotel is so good, I wouldn't expect anything more.
     
  5. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    Unfortunately, no. There is nothing in your sentence that suggests you ahve any reason to expect anything at all from that hotel, whether it be good or bad. I think the phrase you really have in mind is "The hotel is so good that I could not ask for anything more."
     

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