The verb “wish” expresses a desire for a situation that doesn’t exist now. Moreover, we can use the verb wish to desire about a situation that didn’t exist in the past or will not exist in the future. In this article I am going to describe how to use wish in different tenses: in past, present and future.
How to Use Wish in Different Tenses
Wishes about the present or future
Wish + (that) + past simple:
We use “wish” + (that) + simple past to express that we want a situation in the present (or future) to be different.
- I wish that I had a beautiful house. (I don’t have a beautiful house, but it’s a nice idea!).
- I wish that we didn’t need to work today. (We do need to work today, unfortunately).
- 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.
- He wishes that Ali wasn’t busy tomorrow. (He is busy, unfortunately).
Wish With Would or Could:
We can also use ‘could’ and ‘would’ with ‘wish’ to talk about wishes for the present or future.
- I wish that I could speak Urdu (but, unfortunately, I can’t speak Urdu).
- I wish that I could drive a car. (I can’t drive).
- That’s a dreadful noise. I wish it would stop.
- I always have to get home early. I wish my parents would let me stay out later
Wish + (that) + would:
Wish + would + bare infinitive is used to express impatience, annoyance or dissatisfaction with a present action.
- I wish that Ahmad wouldn’t eat all the chocolate. (Ahmad does usually eat all the chocolate and I don’t like it. I want him to change his behavior!)
- I wish that you wouldn’t smoke so much! (You do smoke a lot and I don’t like it. I want you to change this.)
- I wish she’d be quiet. (I am annoyed because she is speaking.)
Note: We don’t usually use ‘wish’ in this way for things that are really possible in the future. Instead, we use ‘hope’.
- I hope that you pass your exam. (NOT: I wish that you passed the exam).
- I hope that it’s sunny tomorrow. (NOT: I wish that it was sunny tomorrow).
Using wish to offer good wishes:
You can also use ‘wish’ with a noun to ‘offer good wishes’ and with fixed expressions.
- I wish you all the best in your new job.
- We wish you a happy Eid.
- I wish you a happy birthday.
- We wish you good luck in your new job.
Using wish to be doing different actions in the present or future:
Wish + past continuous is used to express that we want to be doing or having 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 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)
Learn about all usages of wish in past, present and future, Remember in the usages above, we used the verb wish + simple past or past continuous but it refers to present or future situation.