Form and meaning
Wishes about the present and future
- We use wish + PAST SIMPLE to express that we want a situation in the present (or future) to be different.
- I wish I spoke Italian. (I don't speak Italian.)
- I wish I had a big car. (I don't have a big car.)
- I wish I was on a beach. (I'm in the office.)
Future: I wish it was the weekend tomorrow. (It's only Thursday tomorrow.)
- We use wish +PAST CONTINUOUS to express that we want to be doing a different action in the present (or future).
- I wish I was lying on a beach now. (I'm sitting in the office.)
- I wish it wasn't raining. (It is raining.)
- I wish you weren't leaving tomorrow. (You are leaving tomorrow.)
Wishes about the past
- We use wish + PAST PERFECT to express a regret, or that we want a situation in the past to be different.
- I wish I hadn't eaten so much. (I ate a lot.)
- I wish they'd come on holiday with us. (They didn't come on holiday with us.)
- I wish I had studied harder at school. (I was lazy at school.)
Wish + would
- We use wish + would + bare infinitive to express impatience, annoyance or dissatisfaction with a present action.
- I wish you would stop smoking. (You are smoking at the moment and it is annoying me.)
- I wish it would stop raining. (I'm impatient because it is raining and I want to go outside.)
- I wish she'd be quiet. (I am annoyed because she is speaking.)
Wish and hope
- To simply express that you want something to happen in the future (not talking about wanting an action or situation to be different, and not talking about impatience or annoyance) we use hope, not wish.
- I hope it's sunny tomorrow.
NOT I wish it was sunny tomorrow.
- I hope she passes her exam next week.
NOT I wish she were passing her exam next week.
- I hope the plane doesn't crash tomorrow.
NOT I wish the plane wouldn't crash tomorrow.
- I hope it's sunny tomorrow.
Wish and want
- We can use wish + infinitive or wish + object + infinitive to mean want in a formal situation.
- I wish to leave now. (+ infinitive)
- I wish to speak to your supervisor please. (+ infinitive)
- I do not wish my name to appear on the list. (+ object + infinitive)
Wish in fixed expressions
- We can use I/We wish you in fixed expressions.
- I wish you a happy birthday.
- We wish you good luck in your new job.
EXERCISES, CLICK ON THE LINKS TO DO THE EXERCISES:
We can use 'should have' to talk about past events that did not happen.
- I should have let her know what was happening but I forgot.
- He should have sent everybody a reminder by email.
- They should have remembered that their guests don't eat pork.
We can also use 'should have' to speculate about events that may or may not have happened.
- She should have got the letter this morning. I expect she'll give us a call about it later.
- He should have arrived at his office by now. Let's try ringing him.
- They should have all read that first email by this stage. It's time to send the next one.
We can use ' should not have' to speculate negatively about what may or may not have happened.
- She shouldn't have left work yet. I'll call her office.
- He shouldn't have boarded his plane yet. We can probably still get hold of him.
- They shouldn't have sent the report off for printing yet. There is still time to make changes.
We can also use 'should not have' to regret past actions.
- I shouldn't have shouted at you. I apologise.
- We shouldn't have left the office so late. We should have anticipated this bad traffic.
- They shouldn't have sacked him. He was the most creative person on their team.