Grammar Constructions with “Wish”

Hello, ABA Community!

How’s it going?

How many times have you said to yourself “I wish I had studied English at school!” or “I wish I knew how to speak English well”?

These sentences include a very important verb: “to wish”. Constructions with the verb “to wish” express hypothetical, unlikely or unreal wishes and contain past tense forms.

Wish + Past Simple

This structure is used to talk about wishes for the present (or future).


I wish I was in shape so I could run the race. (I’m not in shape)

Jane wishes she had more money.

I wish I spoke better Spanish so we could communicate with each other better.

Wish + Past Continuous

This form is used when we want to indicate that we want something to be different in the present or the future.


I wish it wasn’t raining right now. (It is raining)

Kevin wishes he was sleeping now and not in class.

I wish you weren’t going back to Japan tomorrow.

Wish + Would/Could + Infinitive without “to”

“Would” is often used to express annoyance or irritation at a person’s actions whereas “could” is used to speak about hypothetical future situations.


I wish she would pay more attention in class. (She doesn’t pay much attention in class)

I wish you’d stop talking to me like that in public; it’s rude!

I wish you could come on holiday with us; you need a break.

I wish you could stay for longer; your visits are always too short.

Wish + Past Perfect

This form is used to speak about past regrets or situations we wish were different.


Emma wishes she had listened to her mum more as a child. (Emma didn’t listen to her mum enough as a child)

I wish Mike hadn’t eaten all the pizza; I’m so hungry!

I wish I had studied harder at school!

Note that “to wish” can also be used to mean “to want” in formal situations when followed by an infinitive.


I wish to see the manager immediately!

We wish to go home now.


  1. Thank you Brandon for your notes!

    It’s very important how to manage the verb “wish” properly. It’s very used on our usual conversations.

    With the past tenses is a bit more complex. I find it a bit hard with the conditional verb “would” and the warning verb “should”.


    • George Talbot

      Hi Isidro,

      Thanks for your feedback. Yes, it can be challenging sometimes. Keep up the studying and you will keep improving 🙂

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