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”.
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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.