Expressing wishes in English can be a great way to articulate desire or emotion. Whether you’re wishing for something now, then, in the future, or regretting something, using the appropriate phrases and structures is essential.
The two most common words used for these expressions are “wish” and “if only“. This guide provides guidelines on how to employ these phrases in varying tenses and scenarios with example sentences to make it easier for you to express wishes in English.
Present Wishes in English
- To express a present wish in English, use:
- “Subject + wish + subject + past simple tense”
- “If only + subject + past simple tense“.
Examples of Present Wishes in English
- I wish I had more free time.” (which means I have no time at present)
- If only I studied harder.” (which means I don’t)
- He wishes he had the courage to pursue his dreams. (He doesn’t have the courage to do so)
- If only she could go to Hawaii. (She can’t afford to go to Hawaii)
- He wishes he had more time to spend with my family every day. (He doesn’t have time)
- If only I knew how to play the guitar, I could start my own band. (He doesn’t know how to)
- We wish we could travel to new destinations and experience different cultures. (But we can’t)
- If only he could speak fluent Spanish, he could communicate better with his colleagues. (He can’t speak it fluently)
- They wish they found a cure for the diseases that afflict so many people. (Actually they haven’t found them yet)
- She wishes had more confidence in herself and her abilities. (she doesn’t have it)
- If only we had more time to complete this project, we could ensure its success.
Past Wishes in English
- To express a past wish in English, use “Subject + wish + subject + past perfect tense.” or “If only + subject + past perfect tense.”
For example, “) or “
- To make the past wish more polite, use “Subject + wish + subject + could have + past participle.” For example, “I wish I could have been more supportive.”
Examples of Past Wishes in English
- I wish I had studied harder.” (Which means I didn’t study harder
- If only she had saved more money, she could have bought her dream car. (But she didn’t in fact)
- I wish I had spent more time with my grandparents before they passed away. (But he didn’t)
- If only She had seen him before he went” (which means she didn’t see him)
- I wish I had listened to my parents’ advice. They were right all along. (I didn’t listen to them)
- “If only he had taken more opportunities to learn new things when I was younger.” (He didn’t do that)
- If only we had arrived on time, we would have seen the opening act. (But he was late and we didn’t arrive on time).
- We wish we had visited Japan when the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. (We didn’t visit Japan at that time)
- They wish they had invested in Bitcoin when it was still in its early stages. (They didn’t invest in Bitcoin).
- She wishes she had traveled more before settling down and starting a family.
Future Wishes in English
- To express a future wish, use “Subject + wish + subject + modal verb + infinitive.” For example, “I wish I will be able to travel soon.”
- To make the future wish more polite, use “I hope + subject + modal verb + infinitive.” For example, “I hope I will be able to travel soon.”
Examples of Future Wishes in English
- I wish I could travel the world and experience new cultures.
- We wish our children would grow up to be happy and successful individuals.
- She wishes her parents would live long and healthy lives.
- They wish the world would become a more peaceful and tolerant place for everyone to live in.
Don’t forget that wishes and regrets can be expressed in many different ways in English. The key is to choose the right words and structures to best express your thoughts and emotions.