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Using 'wish' for regrets and other things too!

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'I wish I had studied harder in school'

Using wish for past regrets

To regret means that we now feel sorry for something which happened (or didn’t happen) in the past

For example:

‘I regret waking up so late this morning.’ = I am now sorry that I woke up late.

‘I regret not studying harder in school.’ = I am now sorry that I didn’t study enough.

In English we can use the word 'wish' to talk about our past regrets (I have many regrets, so it a useful word for me)!

Let’s take a look at our first example sentence using wish:

‘I wish I had studied harder in school.’

(wish + pronoun + past perfect)

Again in this example sentence the speaker is now sorry that he did not study harder in school.

Here are some more examples:

‘Noel wishes he had visited the Sorbonne when he was in Paris.’

‘We wish we had been kinder to her before she got sick.’

‘They wish they hadn’t spent so much money on their shopping trip.’

Using wish for present regrets

So far we have looked at using regret for events which happened in the past which we now feel sorry about. We can also use wish to talk about our regrets about present situations i.e. we wish that things could be different from the way they are at the moment.

‘I wish I was taller.’ = I am not tall, but I want to be.

Note: Although we are talking about the present we use the past tense:’ I wish I was taller’ and not ‘I wish I am taller’.

Here are some examples of present situation regrets:

‘I wish I knew the way home.’ = I want to go home, but I don’t know the way.

‘She wishes she was going too.’ = She wants to go, but she can not.

‘They wish they were younger.’ = They are older than they want to be.


When someone does something which makes us angry we can use wish:

‘I wish you wouldn’t do that’

Imagine that you share an apartment with somebody. He is very lazy. You can complain by using wish + would:

‘I wish you would wash the dishes.’

‘I wish you wouldn’t leave your clothes on the floor.’

‘I wish you would be cleaner.’

Dreams and unreal situations

We can use wish + could to talk about something that we want to do but can’t.

For impossible dreams:

‘I wish I could fly like superman!’

For possible dreams:

‘I wish I could ski.’ (This is not impossible, you just need to take lessons)


Now  choose the best choice to complete each sentence:


Link: How  to apologise  lesson

  • I wish ___ to my father.

  • I wish it ___ snowing.

  • I wish I ___ so old.

  • I wish I ___ the train.

  • I wish I ___ a day off.

  • I wish the prices ___ so expensive.