You can use this structure when you would like things to be different from the way they actually are.
Use the verb wish to refer to how you would like things to be in the present or to talk about how you would like things to be in the future.
It can also be used to talk about the way things were in the past, but obviously the past can't be changed.
The general concept is sometimes known as 'wishful thinking' and often coincides with the use in Spanish of 'ojalá'. But if you want to say 'ojalá' and nothing else, say 'if only'.
Wishes about the present (and the future)
If you want to talk about your present situation, you can use the structure wish + past simple or continuous. For example:
The same form can be used to talk about someone else's situation. However, there is another structure that you use to talk about actions that take place in the present, but you want them to change in the future. This structure is used to talk about another person, and generally about things you don't like. The structure is wish + would/could + infinitive. For example:
Wishes about the future (and the present)
When you talk about the future, you use the same structure as you use to talk about present states. Some examples:
The future in these cases can't be changed (in theory), and so the situation is seen as unreal and has to be referred to using past tenses.
Wishes about the past: regrets
When you think about a situation in the past, naturally you can't do anything to change it. Therefore this is a way of expressing regret. The structure you use is wish + past perfect. For example:
As mentioned above, the structure wish + would can't be used to talk about yourself. It is used to refer to actions, and you should be able to stop any action you're doing.
Therefore when you talk about yourself, you're talking about states you have no control over (I'm poor, I wish I was rich) or other people's actions that you have no control over either (I haven't got any money. I wish you'd give me some).
If your wish might come true, you should use a different type of verb. For example:
You don't need to repeat all the verbs all the time:
Links to exercises and pdf files
Wishes and regrets
multiple choice exercise - online
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