Wishes

We use past tense forms to talk about wishes:

  • We use past tense modals would and could to talk about wishes for the future:

I don’t like my work. I wish I could get a better job.
That’s a dreadful noise. I wish it would stop.
I always have to get home early. I wish my parents would let me stay out later.

  •  We use past tense forms to talk about wishes for the present:

I don’t like this place. I wish I lived somewhere more interesting.
These seats are very uncomfortable. I wish we were travelling first class.
Everyone wishes they had more free time.
John wishes he wasn’t so busy.
I wish it wasn’t so cold.

  • We use the past perfect to talk about wishes for the past:

I wish I had worked harder when I was at school.
Mary wishes she had listened to what her mother told her.
I wish I hadn’t spent so much money last month.


Hypotheses (things that we imagine)

When we are talking about hypotheses:

  • We use present tense forms after phrases like what if, in case and suppose to talk about the future if we think it is likely to happen:

Those steps are dangerous. Suppose someone has an accident.
We should leave home early in case we are late.

  • We use a past tense form to talk about the future after suppose and what if to suggest something is not likely to happen:

It might be dangerous. Suppose they got lost.
What if he lost his job. What would happen then?

  • We use modals would, could for a hypothesis about the future:

We can’t all stay in a hotel. It would be very expensive.
Drive carefully. You could have an accident.

  • We use would in the main clause and the past in a subordinate clause to talk about the imagined future:

I would always help someone who really needed help.
I would always help someone if they really needed it.

  • We use modals with have to talk about something that did not happen in the past:

I did not see Mary, or I might have spoken to her.
It’s a pity Jack wasn’t at the party. He would have enjoyed this party.
Why didn’t you ask me. I could have told you the answer.

 

 

Exercise

Comments

Hello, could you please explain what is difference between could and would with using wish.
For example:
1)I wish I could go to the library or
2) I wish I would go to the library.
Thank you in advance.

Hello UmmLayla,

The second sentence is not correct.

We use 'wish + could' when something is not possible and we are not happy about this:

I wish I could go to the library = I can't go to the library and I'm not happy about this.

 

We use 'wish + would' when someone does not want to do something and we are not happy about this:

I wish she would come to the party = She refuses to come to the party and I'm not happy about this.

 

We don't use 'wish + would' about ourselves because if we are not happy about a decision we make then we can simply make a different decision.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much for your explanation.

hello geeks,

Q. It is raining .
A. I wish it will stop .

Is it correct. I am really confused..."I hope it will stop " seems to be correct .need more clarification ,please .

Hello babuer,

To talk about the future after 'hope' we use a present form:

I hope it stops.

 

You could also use 'wish':

I wish it would stop raining.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
Sir please tell me which sentence is correct and why:
1) If we hadn't been waiting for you we would already be eating dinner by now.
2) If we hadn't been waiting for you we would have been eating dinner by now.
Thank you in advance.

Hello SahilK,

Which one do you think is correct and why (or why not)?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
Sir, I was reading a book where I found the 1st sentence, which means the first sentence is correct. But as I have studied conditional sentences so in my opinion 2nd one should be the correct one. I am kind of confused here.
Thank you in advance

Hello SahilK,

I would say that both forms are possible here. The present form (would be eating) emphasises that the action is in progress; the perfect form (would have been eating) emphasises that the action started in the past and is continuing. Both forms accurately represent the intended meaning and so the choice is the speaker's in this context.

I think the perfect form is probably the more likely in this particular sentence because of the phrase 'by now'. If the time reference were simply 'now' then the present form would be more likely, I think. However, both are possible, as I said above.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
Sir what if we omit "by" in both the sentences? Will the sentences be right even now?
And what if we write the sentence like "If we hadn't been waiting for you we would have had dinner by now". Is this right?
Thank you in advance

Pages