Wishes about the present and future

  1. wish + past simple is used 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)
  • I wish it was the weekend. (It’s only Wednesday)

2. wish + past continuous is used 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

wish + past perfect is used 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)
  • I wish I had studied harder at school. (I was lazy at school)

Wish + would

wish + would + bare infinitive is used 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 express that you want something to happen in the future (not wanting a situation to be different, and not implying impatience or annoyance) hope is used instead of wish.

  • I hope it’s sunny tomorrow.

“I wish it was sunny tomorrow” is not correct.

  • I hope she passes her exam next week.

“I wish she were passing her exam next week” is not correct.

  • I hope the plane doesn’t crash tomorrow.

“I wish the plane wouldn’t crash tomorrow” is not correct.

Wish and want

wish + infinitive or wish + object + infinitive is used 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

I/we wish you… is used in fixed expressions.

  • I wish you a happy birthday.
  • We wish you good luck in your new job.


In connected speech catenation and elision often occur with wish.

  • I wish I’d studied harder: /wI ʃaɪd/

(catenation – the last consonant sound of wish is joined to the vowel sound in I)

  • I wish he hadn’t done that: /wI ʃiː/

(catenation and elison – as above, and the first consonant sound in he is elided)