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Wish - present

 
 
 

Grammatical form

subject + wish + subject + past simple tense
subject + wish + subject + past continuous tense
subject + wish + subject + would + bare infinitive
subject + wish + subject + could + bare infinitive
 
 

Wish + past simple

You can use wish + past simple to show that you are not satisfied with a situation in the present.
The past tense is used to show that what you wish is not real - it is the opposite of the real situation:

Real situation: I am poor.
Wish: I wish I was rich.

Real situation: I have to work tomorrow.
Wish: I wish I didn't have to work tomorrow.

 

was and were

When using the verb 'to be', in more formal register, 'were' is used instead of 'was' after the pronouns 'I', 'he', 'she' and 'it'.

Reality: I am poor.
Wish: I wish I were rich.

Reality: It's cold
Wish: I wish it weren't cold.

However, in everyday spoken English, this is less common nowadays, and many people say,
I wish I was rich.
I wish it wasn't cold.

 

Wish + past continuous

You can use wish + past continuous to show you are dissatisfied with something that is happening now or with a future arrangement.

Reality: It is raining. (Present continuous tense for something happening now.)
Wish: I wish it wasn't raining.

Reality: I'm working tonight. (Present continuous tense for a future arrangement.)
Wish: I wish I wasn't working tonight.

 

wish + would + bare infinitive

You can use wish + would to express you are not satisfied with a present situation and to emphasize you want it to change now or in the near future.

Reality: This person is annoying me. (Present continuous tense for something happening now.)
Wish: I wish he would go away.

Reality: It is raining. (Present continuous tense for something happening now.)
Wish: I wish it would stop.

Reality: The computer that I use at work is very old.
Wish: I wish they would get a new one.

Reality: My colleague is talking loudly on the phone.
Wish: I wish she'd shut up!

 

wish + could + infinitive

You can use wish + could + infinitive to express that you are not satisfied because you are unable to do something.

Reality: I can't dance as well as Joanne.
Wish: I wish I could dance like Joanne.

Reality: You can't take a holiday because you are busy at work.
Wish: I wish I could take a holiday.



ESL quizzes for Wish - present
quiz
Wishes - regrets - conditionals analysis quiz
Multiple-choice quiz with concept questions for second / third conditionals / wish
Wishes - regrets - conditionals - completion quiz
Multiple - choice sentence completion quiz. Second / third conditionals / wishes / regrets
Wish - wish would quiz
Eleven-question multiple-choice quiz focusing on the difference between wish + past tense / wish + would + bare infintivie
audio

Related ESL material
quiz
Wishes - regrets - conditionals analysis quiz
Multiple-choice quiz with concept questions for second / third conditionals / wish
Wishes - regrets - conditionals - completion quiz
Multiple - choice sentence completion quiz. Second / third conditionals / wishes / regrets
quiz
Wishes - regrets - conditionals analysis quiz
Multiple-choice quiz with concept questions for second / third conditionals / wish
Wishes - regrets - conditionals - completion quiz
Multiple - choice sentence completion quiz. Second / third conditionals / wishes / regrets
quiz
Wishes - regrets - conditionals analysis quiz
Multiple-choice quiz with concept questions for second / third conditionals / wish
Wishes - regrets - conditionals - completion quiz
Multiple - choice sentence completion quiz. Second / third conditionals / wishes / regrets
quiz
Hypothetical past situations
Twelve-question multiple-choice quiz

ESL lesson plans

Politics and the US Election

Complete lesson Vocabulary: politics, elections; skills: political issues.
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Download Politics and the US Election (PDF)
 

Gender discrimination at work

Complete lesson Vocabulary: work clothes; skills: gender discrimination; grammar: reported speech.
Gender descrimination ESL worksheet thumbnail 1 Gender descrimination ESL worksheet 2 thumbnail Gender descrimination ESL worksheet 3 thumbnail
Download Workplace gender discrimination (PDF)
 

English grammar notes

Comparison with as...as

Comprehensive grammar reference notes, illustrated.
Grammar notes on comparison with as..as thumbnail 1 Grammar notes on comparison with as..as thumbnail 2 Grammar notes on comparison with as..as thumbnail 3
Download English grammar notes: comparison with as...as (PDF)