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Study tip: ‘Wish’

6th November 2016

Do you ever wish you had a better job? Did you do something in the past that you wish you hadn’t? Do you ever wish for something that is unlikely, almost impossible? Perhaps there is something irritating you now that you would like to change?

It’s time for some #StudyTips, and today we are learning how to use ‘wish’ structures.

Let’s start with the easy part.


Wish – set phrases for expressing goodwill

We use this structure to express a hope that someone enjoys happiness or success in the future*

  • I wish you every success in the future.
  • I wish you all the best in your new job.

*Note that you need to use ‘wish’ + object pronoun + noun.

** Note that you cannot use the verb “hope” in place of “wish”

Wishes about the present  (Wish + past simple)

We can use the verb ‘wish’ with the past to talk about things we are not happy with in the present, and it’s possible to change.

  • I wish I had a big house. (I don’t have a big house now)
  • I wish I had a good job. (I have a bad job now)

We sometimes use this structure to talk about situations we are not happy with now, but we can’t change.

  • I wish I were taller.

*It is correct to use ‘were’ for the first person.

Wishes about the future (Wish + could) 

We also use ‘wish’ with ‘could’ to talk about something that we would like to be different in the future.

  • I wish I could speak Spanish. (but unfortunately, I can’t speak Spanish )
  • I wish I could drive. (I can’t drive)
  • I wish I could come to the party, but I can’t.

Wish + would

We use ‘wish’ with ‘would’ to express a desire for someone to change their behaviour.

  • The children are making a lot of noise. I wish they would stop making noise.

Wishes about the past  (Wish + past perfect) 

We use ‘wish’ with the past perfect express regrets from the past. These are things that have already happened but we wish they’d happened in a different way.

  • I wish I had got up earlier. I am behind with everything today.
  • I wish you hadn’t lost your phone. It was a really good one.

Test your knowledge!

For more Study Tips, you can read our Study Tips posts.  

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