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.





hello."I thought that you spoke english" or "I thought that you would speak english"?which is the correct?

Hello manuel24,

Both are grammatically correct but have different meanings. The first sentence (spoke) is about whether or not the person is able to speak English. The second sentence (would speak) assumes that the person can speak English and is about whether or not they choose to do so in a particular situation.



The LearnEnglish Team

Excuse me Peter but I'm not sure I understood everything,can you show me any example?

Hi manuel24,

For example, if you and I traveled to London and someone there started speaking to you in English and you turned to me, expecting me to respond, I could say 'I thought you spoke English'. This would indicate that I was expecting you to reply since you know English.

For the second, if we met a Swedish person in the UK and I you spoke to her in French even though you speak English better than French, I could say 'I thought you would speak in English' since I was expecting you to speak the language that you know better.

I hope this helps.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Kirk!

I think the first one is correct

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.



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 .