How to use “wish” in English

When we want to express a desire in English for a situation to be different to what it actually is then it is very common to use the verb “to wish”. This verb can be used in different tenses depending on what we desire or desired to be different.

Different tenses with “wish”

1. Wish + Simple Past

We use “wish” + simple past to express that we want a situation in the present (or future) to be different.


“I wish I lived in Spain” – Right now this person does not live in Spain but would like to in the present.

“He wishes he had a Lambourghini” – Right now this person does not have a Lambourghini but want one in the present.

“They wish it was June” – Right now it’s May and they still have to wait a month to go on holiday in the future.

2. Wish + Past Continuous

We use “wish” + past continuous to express that we want to be doing a different activity in the present (or the future).


“I wish I was eating Spanish food in Barcelona” – Right now this person is in the office, they would like to be in Spain, eating tapas, in the present.

“He wishes he was driving a Lambourghini in Paris” – Right now this person is also in an office, they want to be driving, in the present.

“They wish they were leaving tomorrow to go on holiday” – They aren’t going on holiday, in the future, but would like to.

3. Wish + Past Perfect

We use “wish” + past perfect to express regret. This means we want to be able to change a situation in the past.


“I wish I hadn’t eaten so much chocolate” – This person ate too much chocolate, feels sick and would like to go back to the past and change it.

“He wishes his Dad had bought him a Lambourghini for his birthday” –  This person would have liked a car for his birthday, in the past.

“They wish they had studied more for their exam” – They didn’t study and now would like to go back and study more.

4. Wish + Would

We use “wish” + would + infinitive to express dissatisfaction with the present situation.


“I wish you would stop making so much noise” – The person wants the other to stop making noise.

“He wishes his dog would behave” – The dog is barking and he wants it to stop.

We can also use “wish” to express “want” in a formal situation, for example, we can say “I wish to talk to the headmaster”. We do this by saying “wish” + infinitive.

Finally, we can use subject + wish + someone as a fixed expression to congratulate them or desire them well. For example: “We wish you a Merry Christmas”, “My parents wish you a Happy Birthday”, “I wish you good luck in your new job”, “She wishes her sister the best of happiness”.

We wish you the best of luck in your studies…

After having looked at how to used the verb “wish” in English, the main thing is to start to put it into practice. At ABA English, you can sign up for our course for free and get instant access to 144 video classes which range from beginner to advanced level so that you can continue to get the best out of your English ability.



  1. Great! We’re so happy to hear this, thanks!

  2. I think that the 2nd example for number 1 should be “He wishes he had a Lambourghini” because “wished” is past, so it’s not a situation in the present (or future).

  3. “He wished he had a Lambourghini” DO YOU MEAN “He wishes he had a Lambourghini”?

  4. We apologize! It is now fixed.

  5. I need more examples to “ask” using Wish in the past. Ex.: “What did he wish?” >> Is it correct?

  6. thank you

  7. what level of difficulty of i wish?

  8. how do i wish every student comes out to the levels of their excellence but champion of hearts too.Is it correct?

  9. Please, can you help me..
    What is the difference between “hope” and “wish”

    • Hello there!
      To hope – it is used for possible situations in the past, present or future.
      To wish – it is used for goals and situations that we want to achieve but that are impossible or completely opposite to our current reality.

  10. hello, may i ask you one question please?? is it possible to use present simple with the verb wish? for. eg is it right to say i wish i become a doctor…

    • Hello!
      You can say “I hope to become a doctor”, or “I wish I were a doctor”, or “I wish for (something)”. But you can’t say “I wish I become a doctor”.
      Hope it helps! 😉

  11. Which is more correct’I wish I were’ or I wish I was’?Many thanks in advance.

    • Hello there! “Wish I were” is used when referring to a situation that doesn’t exist and never will. “Wish I was” is used when talking about something that could happen or that could have happened in the past.
      Hope this helps! 🙂

  12. Hello!
    I’d like to know whether we can use past perfect continuous with I wish.

    e.g. I wish he hadn’t been driving so fast!

  13. pls tell me wish can be used with present tense Ex. I wish tro go to Jaipu

    • George Talbot


      Thanks for your question. We don’t use wish with the present tense but with the past simple.

      We would say:

      “I wish I had more time” instead of “I wish I have more time”

      If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Did you know that you can also sign up for free to our course

  14. Good I want to become a part of this group

  15. Pls tell me which one is correct and why?
    I wish him success
    I wish him successful

    • George Talbot

      Hi, thank you very much for your question.

      The correct answer is “I wish him success”. Success is a noun, therefore with wish we have to use this example. Alternatively, with successful we can use the verb hope and say: “I hope you are successful”

      If you have any more questions, we are here to help 🙂

  16. Please help me

  17. Which is of these is correct, “I wish to let you know that I regretted . . .” or, “I wanted to let you know that I regretted. . . ” ?

    • George Talbot

      Hi David,

      Thank you for your question. You can say either of the following:

      – I wanted to let you know that I regret

      We use regret in the present because if you conjugate it in the past, it has connotations that you no longer regret it.

      If you have any more questions, do not hesitate to ask us.


  18. Use either of ,neither of ,none of

  19. My question is
    What about the sentence ” I wish I had a conversation with Kate “

  20. thank you for these information i wish you all the best

  21. would you answer my question?
    we change too and very to so if the sentence is negative
    i wish it were not so hot
    is it incorrect to say i wish it were not too hot?

  22. Hi there, this is Nouman Tariq from Pakistan, my question is how I can change this sentence into past?
    I wish I didn’t have to go to school today.
    Suppose it is Tuesday and a few days ago I went to school under compulsion now how do I say?
    I wish I hadn’t had to to go to school that day?
    Is this sentence Correct or which one will be correct in this case?

  23. Could we use the verb wish in progressive forms ?

  24. Hello, is “don’t you wish your mom was beautiful like mom” correct?

  25. hello,
    This is Charles Lew from China.May i ask you one question please? Is it right to use with the verb wish at the beginning of the sentence? For. eg is it right to say “Wish a good luck to you?”or”Wish you a good luck”?

  26. Hello)

    Example: I wish we were going to the computer fair next weekend

    Why are we using here Past Continuous? Can we say here I wish we WOULD go to the computer fair next weekend

    What is the difference between WOULD and Past Continuous after I WISH?In which cases should we use each of the variants?
    Thanks for reply in advance.

  27. How about this?
    1)I wish I knew where I was right now
    2)I wish I knew where I am right now

  28. could someone tell me, how can we distinguish between present and future wish? thanks a lot

  29. Is “I wish I have more money “correct

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