You can use
this structure when you would like things to be different from the way
they actually are.
Use the verb
wish to refer to how you would like things to
be in the present or to talk about how you would like things to be in the
It can also be
used to talk about the way things were in the past, but obviously the past
can't be changed.
concept is sometimes known as 'wishful thinking' and often coincides with
the use in Spanish of 'ojalá'.
Wishes about the present (and the future)
If you want to
talk about your present situation, you can use the structure wish + past simple or
continuous. For example:
got any money. I wish I had some money.
I don't earn much money. I
wish I earned a
lot of money.
We're all living in a small flat. I wish we weren't living
in a small flat. I wish we were living in a big
The same form
can be used to talk about someone else's situation. However, there is
another structure that you use to talk about actions that take place in
the present, but you want them to change in the future. This structure is
used to talk about another person, and generally about things you don't
like. The structure is wish + would/could + infinitive. For
is always borrowing money from you because he never seems to have his
bank card with him. You could say to him:
I wish you wouldn't keep
borrowing money from me.
I wish you
would remember to go to the bank from time to
same friend does lots of things that irritate you. Maybe he phones you
early in the morning when you're still in bed. He might arrange to meet
you and then turn up late. You could say to him:
I wish you wouldn't phone
me so early in the morning.
I wish you
would wait until later.
I wish you would tell me
when you're going to be late.
Wishes about the future (and the present)
When you talk
about the future, you use the same structure as you use to talk about
present states. Some examples:
I have to go
to the dentist tomorrow. I wish I didn't have to go to the dentist
I'll have to do some extra work over the weekend. I
wish I didn't have
to do any extra work over the weekend.
My brother is coming to
stay with me next week. I wish my brother
wasn't coming next
The future in
these cases can't be changed (in theory), and so the situation is seen as
unreal and has to be referred to using past tenses.
Wishes about the past: regrets
When you think
about a situation in the past, naturally you can't do anything to change
it. Therefore this is a way of expressing regret. The structure you use
is wish + past
perfect. For example:
You were too
slow getting ready to go out. I wish you
hadn't been so slow getting ready.
we've missed the train. I wish we hadn't missed the train.
I promised our
friends we'd arrive on time. I wish I hadn't promised we'd arrive on time, because now
they'll be waiting for us.
above, the structure wish + would can't be used to talk about yourself. It is
used to refer to actions, and you should be able to stop any action you're
you talk about yourself, you're talking about states you have no control
over (I'm poor, I wish I was rich) or other people's actions that you have no
control over either (I haven't got any money. I wish you'd give me some).
If your wish
might come true, you should use a different type of verb. For example:
I hope it
doesn't rain tomorrow.
I'd like to go to the
Caribbean for my holiday next year.
I hope you get well
You don't need
to repeat all the verbs all the time:
My flat is
cold. I wish it wasn't.
You smoke. I wish you wouldn't.
She told him! I wish she