My sentence:

The expectation of the grades are high.

Die Erwartungen von der Noten sind hoch.


Die Erwartungen an die Noten sind hoch.

When I searched on Google, most random links have the phrase Erwartungen jdn etw. But, the same phrase does not show in any dictionary.

Am I misunderstanding the usage of an? I think an is used to talk about vertical position of the object otherwise, it is part of some fixed phrases e.g. denken an.

  • I downvoted this question. The English sentence doesn't make sense. I don't know what "Erwartungen jdn etw" is supposed to mean or where you found that. I think the problem is that you expect prepositions to only enter into fixed relationships with verbs, but not nouns.
    – David Vogt
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 10:04
  • @DavidVogt The context wherein the students are supposed to get good grades and it is expected from them that they get the high grades and not the low ones. The expectation of good grades is high. Die Erwartung an gute Noten/ Benotung ist hoch. Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 11:02
  • @David Vogt: The phrasing of the English version is a tad non-standard, but the meaning is clear. I would have said "The expectation is that the grades will be high," but this is wordier.
    – RDBury
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 17:32
  • 1
    Google isn't really the right tool for this type of issue. I'd recommend DWDS. Look up the word and click on the DWDS-Wortprofil link toward the bottom of the page. There, under "hat Präpositionalgruppe", you can see that the prepositions usable with "Erwartungen" are von, für, an & occasionally auf. There is also the phrase allen Erwartungen zum Trotz. You can get an idea which preposition is used when from the examples you get by clicking on the phrase. I think both von and an would translate to "of", so it is a bit confusing for an English speaker.
    – RDBury
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 18:04
  • @RDBury I am not a native speaker, but where has expectation of the grades ever been used? The highest ranked Google hit for this phrase is this very question.
    – David Vogt
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 18:20

2 Answers 2


The complete phrase is

Erwartungen an jemand/ etwas stellen

This is a figurative phrase with the literal meaning to put expectations to or at someone/ something. In other words, the preposition an actually belongs to the verb stellen. In the sentence

Die Erwartungen an die Noten sind hoch.

the idea of putting is no longer visible. But it is still implicit, as you could always expand it, for example:

Die Erwartungen, die an die Noten gestellt sind, sind zu hoch.


Actually Erwartungen does not urgently require prepositions, and the most idiomatic use may be without preposition. (You expect something and either it happens or it does not.)

Die Erwartungen haben sich nicht erfüllt.

Now there are some plausible contexts:

  1. from whom you expect something as in

Especially if you express that expectation, you address them to somebody and an actually specifies the target of that address. (Such a stated expectation borders to a Forderung [demand], for which an is by far the most common preposition.) Example:

zu hohe Erwartungen an die Genomforschung

Better would be a phrase using the verb:

Von der Genomforschung hätte man sich mehr erwartet.

  1. in which respect you expect something

Bis Ende des dritten Quartals 2000 habe Intershop alle Erwartungen hinsichtlich (in respect to) Umsatzsteigerung und Ergebnis erreicht.

Die Erwartungen bezüglich der Anzahl errungener Medaillen haben sich nicht erfüllt.

  1. the measurable degree of what you expect

This reflects your example, e. g. one expects a good grade but just receives a mediocre one. The best translation I can come up with is

Die hoch gesteckten Erwartungen haben sich nicht erfüllt.

I don't see, how expectations can address a grade, which is just a passive result, and therefore I see no justification for an here.

  • Exactly! Erwartungen an die Noten doesn't make much sense. +1
    – Olafant
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 10:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.