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
Read the explanation to learn more.
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.
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
I don't understand why in this sentence
"If only he were her now" is used were and in
"If only there was a restaurant open now." is used was.
And can we use was both were and was in this sentences?
Yes, both "was" and "were" are fine in those two sentences!
The reason is that "was" and "were" are actually two different structures.
That's why both are considered correct.
I hope you could help me with this question because I’m a little bit confused.
As I have just done the Grammar test 1 and read one of your comments, I knew that after "If only" and also "I wish", in traditional grammar, it's correct to use a verb form called the subjunctive. The subjunctive is a verb form that is used for expressing doubts and wishes, and the past form is "were" for all persons (I, you, he, she, etc.).
But in the question: “I’m starving. If only there ____ a restaurant now.” The answer to this question is “ was”. I want to ask why it is “was” but not “were”.
Thank you so much in advance for your help.
The key word here is 'traditional'. Language change over time and while in the past using 'was' in such sentences would have been seen as an error, today both forms are quite common. I think for some people 'were' is still seen as the 'more correct' form especially in very formal contexts, but it is undeniable that both are acceptable and in common use.
The same thing can be seen in if-clauses, where 'If I were you...' is still the preferred form for most, but 'If I was you...' is becoming more common.
The subjunctive is much less common that it used to be. Even verbs which are traditionally followed by the subjunctive such as suggest, insist and recommend are now more often followed by a present or past simple form.
The LearnEnglish Team
Could you please tell me which answer is the correct one and why?
I feel so unhappy in my new position. I wish ......... in the first place.
a- didn't accept
b- hadn't accept
It should be: hadn't accepted (with "-ed"). To show your wish that something in the past was different, the structure is: I wish + past perfect. The past perfect is made of "had" + past participle.
It would also sound natural to add the object too: I wish I hadn't accepted it ...
I hope that helps.
Hi, I have a doubt about this sentence:
tonight I really want to watch a movie. If only the television hadn't/hasn't broken!
which one is correct?
The correct form here is 'hadn't broken'.
The phrase 'if only' introduces a counter-factual (the TV is broken) and we signal this by moving the verb form one step into the past, so 'it didn't break' becomes 'it hadn't broken'.
The LearnEnglish Team
Hello! Could you please help with this sentence: 1) If only I were slimmer than I (am/was/were?) now
2) if only I were slimmer than now
Which form is correct?
The verb form you need is '...than I am now', but you could omit this as the context makes it easy to understand that you are talking about yourself.
The LearnEnglish Team