Wishes: 'wish' and 'if only'

Wishes: 'wish' and 'if only'

Do you know how to use wish and if only to talk about things you would like to change? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how wish and if only are used.

That guy is so annoying! I wish he'd stop talking.
I wish I lived closer to my family.
If only I hadn't lost her phone number. She must think I'm so rude for not calling her.
I wish they wouldn't park their car in front of my house.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

'wish' and 'if only': Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

We use wish and if only to talk about things that we would like to be different in either the present or the past. If only is usually a bit stronger than wish

In the present

We can use wish/if only + a past form to talk about a present situation we would like to be different. 

I wish you didn't live so far away.
If only we knew what to do.
He wishes he could afford a holiday.

In the past

We can use wish/if only + a past perfect form to talk about something we would like to change about the past. 

They wish they hadn't eaten so much chocolate. They're feeling very sick now.
If only I'd studied harder when I was at school. 

Expressing annoyance

We can use wish + would(n't) to show that we are annoyed with what someone or something does or doesn't do. We often feel that they are unlikely or unwilling to change.

I wish you wouldn't borrow my clothes without asking.
I wish it would rain. The garden really needs some water.
She wishes he'd work less. They never spend any time together.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

'wish' and 'if only': Grammar test 2

Language level

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Hi AlexKat_,

For your first question, I wish I could divorce him now is the right option. The intended meaning seems to be about having the ability or possibility to do so, so could is needed in the sentence.

Yes, that's right about the use of wish (somebody) would + verb. But this meaning can be extended to non-human things that we want to change, especially something that displays some kind of "behaviour" (e.g. the bus coming, or the rain stopping).

I hope that helps!

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by HLH on Tue, 26/09/2023 - 12:48

Permalink

Hello
can I use both when I talk about past and What is the difference ?
I hoped she passed the exam
I wish she had passed the exam

Hello HLH,

Both sentences are possible.

In the first sentence (with 'hope') she has taken the exam but you don't know the result yet and are waiting to find out.

In the second sentence (with 'wish') she has also already taken the exam and you know that she did not pass, You are feeling regret or sadness about this fact.

 

The second sentence is about a known past; the first is about an as-yet unknown result which you will presumably find out in the future.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter
I hope she passed the exam
I hoped she passed the exam

1-Both sentences I do not know the result ?

2- if I do not know the result I will use
I hope she passed the exam
I hoped she passed the exam

if I know the result I will use
I wish she had passed the exam
or
I wished she had passed the exam?

3- What's the difference between them
I hope she passed the exam
I hoped she passed the exam?

Hello again HLH,

It's a little hard to comment without some context for these sentences but I'll try.

The only change in these sentences is in when you felt the hope. In the first sentence you still hope now and therefore do not know the result. In the second we only know that you hoped in the past. We don't know if you later learned the result or not. You could say, for example, 'I hoped she passed the exam, but I never heard from her again so I never found out', but you could also say 'I hoped she passed the exam and I was pleased to find out later that she had!'.

If you did find out the result and she did not pass then the past perfect would be used as a way to show that the hope ended: 'I had hoped she passed the exam but unfortunately she didn't'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by thebaongoc on Sun, 24/09/2023 - 05:03

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Hello. Can you help me, please ?
Can i say: '' she wishes you felt better'' or '' she wishes you would feel better''. And why?

Hello thebaongoc,

The correct form is ''''you felt...'

 

After 'wish' we have several choices.

We can use a past form to talk about the present we would like. For example:

He wishes he had a big house >>> He doesn't have a big house and he is imagining an alternative present.

 

We can also use a past perfect after 'wish' to talk about a past we are imagining. For example:

She wishes she had studied maths instead of biology >>> She didn't study maths and she is imagining an alternative past.

 

We can also use 'would' after 'wish'. However, this only describes choices. For example:

I wish you would stop talking >>> this is fine (if a little rude) as talking or not talking is a choice.

I wish you would feel better >>> this is not correct as how we feel is not a choice we have. We can't choose to feel better or worse; we just experience it.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello thebaongoc,

The correct form is 'I wish tomorrow were Sunday'. We only use 'would' when we are describing something a person could choose to do or not do. What day it is is a fact about the world, not a choice.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by HLH on Thu, 21/09/2023 - 05:38

Permalink

Hello
when we do know the result or outcome we use 'hope' in a past tense
We just have two structures
I hoped you would pass the exam
OR
I hoped to pass the exam
my questions

- can I use
I hoped she passed the exam
OR
I hoped she was cooking yesterday
OR
I hoped she has passed the exam
OR
I hoped she had passed the exam

- can I use
I hoped you could pass the exam
OR
I hoped you would have passed the exam
OR
I hoped you could have passed the exam

what is different wish and hoped in past when we do know the result
They are all the same meaning ?
I hoped you would pass the exam
I hoped to pass the exam

I wish she had passed the exam