wishes and hypotheses



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 in 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.





The result would have been different if they had used there chances properly.
The result would have different if they had used their chances properly.

There is only difference of been in the sentence. Would it change the meaning if i don't use it.

Plz also explain been, where it should be used exactly.

Hello tagrapankaj,

The first sentence is correct, apart from the use of 'there', which should be 'their':

The result would have been different if they had used their chances properly.

This is an example of a conditional form describing an unreal or alternative past event and result, sometimes called a 'third conditional' form. To make this form we use:

if + had + past participle [= past perfect]... (then) would have + past participle

'Been' is necessary as it is the past participle of 'be'; without it the form of the past perfect is incorrect. Of course, other verbs can be used in third conditional sentences, but the [had + past participle] form is necessary, whether that past participle is 'been' or something else.

You can find more information on third conditional forms here.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi sir,
If we have to add something in wishes first and second (future and present) sentences how will we do that?
For example, I wish I would be so rich, then my father would ask me where had/did you got this money.
I wish I were the father of my father, I didn't allow him to meet his friends and to make fun then he realized
How it hurts me.
These are the two right or have some mistakes. Please guide me.

Thanks a lot

Hi Syed sami ul haq,

You can find information on these structures on this page, and I think that will help you to see how they are formed and used. However, we do not use 'wish' in this way. I am not entirely sure about what you are trying to say, so it is hard for me to correct the sentences. However, I would guess that what you are trying to say is as follows:

I wish I was so rich that my father would ask me where I got this money.

I wish I were the father of my father, because then I wouldn't allow him to meet his friends and to have fun so that he would realise how it hurts me.

I hope that helps to answer your questions.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Sir in my first sentence I meant that it is my wish that in future I become so rich and after happening that my father asks me a question where you got this money from.
In second sentence I meant it is my wish that I am father of my father in present then I give him a lesson that what he does with me is not fair by imposing restrictions on him.


Hello Syed sami ul haq,

The sentences that Peter wrote above communicate what you explain in your comment, but are wishes that you don't expect to come true. For wishes that we think have some chance of coming true, we use the verb hope. You might want to consider using hope for the first sentence:

I hope that I become so rich that my father will ask me where I got the money.

For the second sentence, only wish is appropriate, as it is not reasonable to expect that you will become your father's father, at least in this life!

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi sir,
I have a few queries regarding wishes.
A. Could we use "would that" instead of using wish? Will it give the same meaning?
B.could I make a sentence in this way? "I wish your drafted report would be accepted"
C.we typically use the word wish for intentions , willingness, praying to God and
Something which is unlikely to happen. My question is what meaning wish is being used here for?

Thanks and sorry for asking 3 questions in same time.

Hi Syed sami ul haq,

There is a very old/archaic form which used 'would that' in place of 'wish', as in sentences like this:

I would that he were with me now! (in modern English: 'I wish he were with me now!')

However, this is not used in modern English and is found only in old literary texts.

We would use 'hope' rather than 'wish' in your second example:

I hope (that) your draft report will be accepted / is accepted.

I don't understand your third question. To which sentence are you referring when you say 'here'? If you are referring to the example with the report then, as I said, we would not use 'wish' in that example.

I hope that answers your questions.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi sir,
Could you plz explain how we will write about present hypothesis.....I have read about past hypothesis and future hypothesis,but not about present hypothesis....

Hi Learner S,

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by 'present hypothesis'.  There are many ways of talking about unreal present, of speculating about the present and so on.  Could you provide an example of the kind of meaning you have in mind, and then we'll try to help you to express it?

Thank you,



The LearnEnglish Team