When you end a conversation with someone, they might say to you “Hope to see you soon”.
Whenever someone says this to you, it means that they wish to meet you again in you in the near future.
Usually, it will only be said by people who don’t see you too often. They’ll be hoping that the gap between this meeting and the next is not going to be as large as the gap between this meeting and the previous.
Other times it might be said is when you first meet someone new, and you want to see them again because you liked them so much.
One debate that could be had around this phrase is “Is it just an example of Phatic language”. Phatic Language are words and phrases that don’t mean anything, but we say them anyway, just to be polite.
On the one hand, “Hope to see you soon” can be seen as a slightly politer way of saying “goodbye”, but on the other hand, it might not be as you are conveying information about your desires for the future.
I suppose whether or not it is Phatic language depends upon whether or not the person saying it actually means it.
The etymology of “hope” is religious in origin. In old English, they had the word “hopian”, which meant to trust in God’s word, essentially making it synonymous with “faith”.
It wasn’t until the 13th century that it came to mean “to wish for”.
The bible uses the word “hope”, and because that book was written so long ago, many of the words used have changed meaning. So when you read such a book, remember that “hope” is just another way of saying “faith”, and it’s not what most of us think of it as today.
What’s a bit off about “hope to see you soon” is the word “see”.
Of course, when you meet someone, you want to be looking at them, but the usage of the word “see” instead of “meet” or “talk to” suggests that you just want to look at them. A tiny bit creepy!
You don’t want to just look at them, you want to talk to them, and know what they’ve been up to. So when we say “see” in this context, we mean “speak to, face to face”.
Words in our language can change meaning depending on the context in which they’re used.
When you might hear it
We spoke earlier about times you might say or hear it. But I want to look into those examples a little bit further.
Some of us have friends who live far away, and therefore seeing them is going to be much easier said than done. But because we like them, we might wish it wasn’t this way. So it would show your appreciation for their friendship to tell them that you want to see them sooner than you usually would do.
You might also say it when talking to someone on the phone, Skype, or social media. Because of the lockdown, you can’t leave your house to see them, but you hope that changes soon.
In this language, there is never just one way of saying something. If you hope to see someone soon, there are no shortage of ways to say it.
“I look forward to seeing you again” has the same vibe to it.
“Longing to see you again” is what you might say in a more romantic context.
“See you soon enough” is what you’ll say when you’re more confident that you’ll be seeing them again soon.
What you should say will depend on who you’re talking to, and how often you see them.
Hope vs Hoping
Hope (when used as a verb, like it is here) is in the present tense. And to be more precise, the present simple, something which expresses a general rule.
If you were to say “hoping to see you soon” that would be talking about this exact moment, and therefore make it the present continuous.
We could likely debate all day about which one is better. Are you in a constant state of hope to see them soon? Or does this hope get fulfilled when you do?
Maybe when talking to someone you don’t see very often, it should be “hope”. But when talking to someone you usually see a lot, but can’t because of Corona, “hoping” would be more suitable.
The final word in that phrase is “soon”. Although we use this word daily, it doesn’t mean anything much.
Yes, it does mean shortly in the future, but there is no set definition for what qualifies as soon. For one person, seeing someone in a month might be soon, but for another, having to wait more than a day is like an eternity.
Soon is a word with a subjective definition.
Soon is one of the words that has changed definitions since the beginning.
In Old English, Sona meant “at once”. When you’ll do something “soon”, you won’t be doing it “at once”. You’ll be doing it later.
It wasn’t until the middle ages, that it soon came to mean “within a short time”, and since then, it’s that definition which has stuck with us. Nobody is too sure how or why soon came to change the meaning. But the English language has many mysteries that we may never get the bottom of, and that’s what makes it so interesting.
“Hope to see you soon”, although possibly another way of saying “goodbye”, means that you have a wish that you and the person you’re talking to will be in the future, but not the distant future.
There are a few things that a non-English person might find strange about the phrase. Why would you only want to see someone when you can talk to them? What is soon?
But as with many parts of our language, they’ve become embedded, and most of us will know what they mean without having to think about it.
Both the words “hope” and “soon” have changed their meaning over time, and most will never know about their past.