Tim Bowen exceeds our expectations yet again with another stunning article on collocations.

‘Some 95% of the people questioned said that TV coverage of the Olympic Games met or exceeded their expectations’. Alternatives to meet that collocate with expectation or expectations include come up to, fulfil, live up to, match and be in line with, as in ‘The latest exam results were in line with expectations’. Alternatives to exceed that collocate with expectation or expectations include outstrip and surpass, as in ‘The public’s response to the music outstripped the band’s initial expectations’.

If, on the other hand, things turn out to be worse than people expected, their expectations can be dampened, dashed or events may fall below or fall short of their expectations, as in ‘It is fair to say that the team’s results so far this season have fallen short of their supporters’ high expectations’.

If things turn out to be different from what people expected, then expectations can be confounded, contradicted, defied or even shattered, as in ‘The coalition won nearly 17% of the vote, confounding expectations and making him the leader of the second-largest party in the government’.

Expectations can be unreasonable, unrealistic or unreal, as in ‘Expectations of an easy victory in the second round of voting turned out to be unrealistic’, or they can be reasonable, rational, legitimate or realistic, as in ‘People have legitimate expectations when it comes to the provision of adequate healthcare’.

If you expect things to be bad, your expectations will be low and, if you expect things to be good, they will be high, as in ‘People have high expectations of college courses’. In most combinations, the plural form is used.