Today we’re making wishes and talking about regrets. No doubt you sometimes wish things were different, or that somebody would behave differently. And you most probably have some regrets about things you did or didn’t do in the past and now think that your decision wasn’t the correct one. So, do you know how to do this in English? There are a few ways we can communicate these ideas so let’s take a look at the most common ones.
Let’s begin by mentioning with the verb “hope.” We use “hope” when we want to talk about something that we believe has a very high possibility. That could either be something in the present or future that we think is going to happen or something that we think was a real possibility in the past.
For the present or future, we normally use a simple present verb. These express the idea that we think it is possible, it has high probability and we want it to happen. I hope you have a good weekend! I hope I pass the exam with a 10.
For the past, we use the simple past tense. This expresses a desire for a result in the past that we expected to happen.
I hope you got the job! I hope I didn’t offend you.
Great. Now moving on to the verb “wish”. We use wish to talk about a desired result in the present, future, or even the past that seems really improbable, or that didn’t happen in the past. Let’s take a closer look:
Present/future time wishes
Wish + past tenses These are wishes where you want to change a present/future situation. Notice that the verb after wish is in the simple past or past continuous, but you are talking about the present or future! I wish I had a dog. (I don't have one at the moment but I want one.) I wish you weren't leaving. (You are leaving and I’m not happy about that.) I wish I was going on holiday with you this summer. (I am sadly not going.)
Past time Wish + past perfect In the same way as present wishes, the verb form after wish/if only is in the past, but this time the past perfect. These are wishes referring to a past event, which cannot be changed. I wish I hadn't eaten so much cake. (I ate so much cake that I regret it).
If only I had bought BinCoins in 2015 (I didn’t buy them and that was a mistake).
Wishes about other people Would + infinitive Would is used when the speaker wants somebody or something else to change or for irritating habits other people have.
I wish he would tell me the truth. (I find it irritating that he doesn’t) I wish it would stop raining. (I hate the rain) I wish you wouldn't make such a mess. (You really should stop making a mess before you get my full wrath!)
Finally, it should be noted that in all cases you can replace “I wish” with “if only” for more emphasis.
If only I had a dog.
If only he would tell me the truth.
If only I hadn't eaten so much cake.
After reading this, we hope this topic is now somewhat clearer! Now that you have the explanation you can practice talking about your wishes and test yourself on the quiz below!