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 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.

 

 

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

Can we use wish to express the feeling of guilt?
I wish I hadn't spoken to her like that. I seem to have hurt her.

Hello Goldenhorse77,

Your sentence is correct and very well-formed -- good work! We often use the word 'regret' (which is similar to 'guilt') to talk about the feeling expressed in this kind of statement.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi!
Instead this sentence:
I always have to get home early
Can i use this sentence below:
I always have to come home early.
Thank's in advance.

Hello Ricardo A,

'Come' has a sense of 'here' with it, and so we use 'come' when we are speaking from the place being discussed. For example:

I came home at 6.00. [I would say this if I were at home when speaking]

I went home at 6.00. [I would say this if I were not at home when speaking]

 

You could say 'get home' in any context, but you would only say 'come home' if you were actually saying it while at home.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

How can I make "I wish..." sentence from this sentence:
I have never been in Italy.
How should I convert it?
a)I wish I have ever been in Italy.
b)I wish I have been in Italy.
Are they both correct or there is some other formulation.
Thanks,
B.T.

Hello B.T.

I'm afraid we generally do not provide help with tasks from outside of our own pages as otherwise we would end up doing our users' homework and/or tests for them.

The relevant rule on this page is as follows:

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

If you follow that rule you should be able to complete the task. Incidentally, 'been' here is the past participle of 'go' rather than 'be' and so we would say 'to Italy' rather than 'in Italy' in most contexts.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi
Is it a must to use past tense after 'wish'?
Are the following correct?
1 I wish you live happily.
2 I wish you have a healthy life.
3 I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Hello libero,

Different forms are possible after 'wish', but a verb in the present tense is not one of them. 'wish' + some kind of verb form is generally used to speak about something that we don't see as likely or possible.

If we want to wish someone something we see as possible, then we can use 'wish' + noun + noun, e.g. 'I wish you a happy life', 'I wish you health', 'I wish you a Merry Christmas'. We can also use 'hope' + (that) + verb clause. For example, 'I hope (that) you have a happy life' or 'I hope you have a healthy life'.

I hope this helps you!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Could someone tell me which sentence is correct?

1) I wish there was a house that cleans itself
or
2) I wish there was a house that cleaned itself.

Pls explain your answer as that would help me understand better. Thank you so much.

Hello frankenstein777,

The past simple verb ('was') in the construction 'I wish there was' indicates that we are talking about an unreal situation or thing. In this case, that unreal thing is a house that cleans itself. But since this phrase goes inside the construction 'I wish there was ...', you should also use the past simple there. Therefore the correct option is 2.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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