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.






Sir, could you tell me please, regarding wishes, why "I wish we were travelling first calss" and not i wish we travelled first class. the sentence is in present tense, so why not to use the past tense of the verb?

Hello matan,

We would say 'I wish we were travelling first class' during the journey - while we are still on the bus, tram or still in the car. The reference is not to the past but to a hypothetical present.

You can say 'I wish we travelled first class' but it would not describe a particular journey but rather a general statement about your dissatisfaction with your travelling habits.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Could you tell me if I can use wish with present simple and future simple like this,
"I wish I go with you to the market in the evening today and, I wish you will get a better job and likewise" ?

Hello SonuKumar,

No, those sentences are not correct. The first sentence should begin either 'I wish to go...' (the meaning here is something like I hope to, with a future meaning) or 'I wish I could go...' (the meaning here is that you would like to go but cannot).

The second sentence would be best expressed by I hope you get...


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello everyone !
Below I report an example :
"John wishes he wasn’t so busy."
I often read "I, he, she, it were/were not " . that's wrong or can I use "were" for each pronoun?

Hello giura,

Yes, you can use 'were' for all persons after 'wish'. It is the subjunctive form and used to be the only possible form, but the language changes all the time and the subjunctive is becoming less popular. It is still correct, however, and is especially preferred in formal language.

I wish I weren't...

I wish you weren't...

I wish he/she/it weren't...

I wish we weren't...

I wish they weren't...


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

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,
The LearnEnglish Team

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,


The LearnEnglish Team