Learn Grammar: Wish

The use of Wish as a grammatical form has several meanings and this post looks at four forms.

The first structure is Wish + to + verb. In this form, wish means the same as want, but it is more formal. It can be used with or without an indirect object:

For example: I wish to complain about Daniel. = I want to complain about Daniel.

The second structure describes wishes about the present. In this form we use Wish + (that) + clause (past simple or continuous). With past simple OR past continuous, this expresses that we want a situation in the present (or future) to be different. The use of ‘that’ is optional.

For example: Alan loves to drive. He really wishes that he had a car or Alan is buying his textbook, but he wishes he was buying a car.

The third structure describes wishes about the past. In this form we use Wish + (that) + clause (past perfect). With past perfect, this expresses that we regret an action or situation in the past.

For example: I have a terrible stomach ache. I wish I hadn’t eaten so much last night or I didn’t pass the exam. I wish I had studied more.

The final structure we will discuss today is Wish + (that) + object + would + verb. This is used to express that we want something to change. It is often used to express concern, disapproval, annoyance or frustration.

For example: I wish you would turn that music down; it’s so loud I can’t think! or I wish you would quit smoking or I wish you would hurry up.

As can be seen from the four different uses of Wish described above, it is important that we understand the context when we choose to use this grammar form.

Remember to watch our YouTube video series for more grammar support: