Wish Sentences

We use the past for a present situation after wish. We use wish to say that we regret something, that something is not as we would like it to be.

I wish I had an umbrella.


A Wish about the Future

I wish she would tell me. (She will not tell me.)

I wish he were going to be here. (He isn’t going to be here.)

I wish she could come tomorrow. (She can’t come tomorrow.)

We use I wish … would when we want something to change or somebody else to do something. The speaker is complaining about the present situation. So you can’t say “I wish I would …”: I wish I were taller. (not “I wish I would be taller“.)

I wish it would stop raining. (It is raining. The bird is complaining about the rain and wants it to stop.)


I wish someone would answer that telephone. It’s been ringing for about five minutes.

The music next door is very loud. I wish they would turn it down.

We often use I wish … wouldn’t to complain about the way people do things: I wish you wouldn’t drive so fast. It makes me nervous.

A Wish about the Present

I wish I knew Sue’s telephone number. (I don’t know it.)

I wish it weren’t raining right now. (It is raining right now.)

I wish I could speak Japanese. (I can’t speak Japanese.)

I wish there weren’t so many people here. (It’s crowded here. There are a lot of people.)

Do you ever wish you you could fly? (You can’t fly.)

In sentences after wish you can use were instead of was:

I wish my room were larger. I wish I weren’t so small.

A Wish about the Past

You have to use the Past Perfect after wish when you say that you regret something that happened or didn’t happen in the past.

I wish I had known that Ann was ill. I wouldn’t have gone to see her. (I didn’t know that she was ill.).

I feel sick. I wish I hadn’t eaten so much. (I ate so much.)

Do you wish you had studied science instead of languages? (You didn’t study science.)

The weather was awful. I wish it had been warmer. (It wasn’t warm.)

I wish John had come. (John didn’t come.)

I wish Mary could have come. (Mary couldn’t come.) 

Winnie-the-Pooh: I wish I hadn’t eaten so much.



You cannot use would have after wish:

I wish it had been warmer. (not ‘would have been’)

Have practice

Exercise 1. Complete the sentences with an appropriate verb form.

  1. Our classroom doesn’t have any windows. I wish our classroom had windows.
  2. The sun isn’t shining. I wish the sun ___________ right now.
  3. I didn’t go shopping. I wish I ___________ shopping.
  4. I don’t know how to dance. I wish I ___________ how to dance.
  5. You dind’t tell them about it. I wish you ___________ them about it.
  6. It’s cold today. I’m not wearing a coat. I wish I ___________ a coat.
  7. I don’t have enough money to buy that book. I wish I ___________ enough money.
  8. Jane is tired because she went to bed late last night. She wishes she ___________ to bed earlier last night.
  9. I can’t go with you tomorrow, but I wish I ___________.
  10. My friend won’t ever lend me his car. I wish he ___________ me his car for my date tomorrow night.
  11. Mrs. White isn’t coming to dinner with us tonight. I wish she ___________ to dinner with us.
  12. The teacher is going to give an exam tomorrow. I wish he ___________________ us an exam tomorrow.
  13. You can’t meet my parents. I wish you ___________ them.
  14. Tom didn’t come to the meeting. I wish he ___________ to the meeting.
  15. I am not lying on a beach in Hawaii. I wish I ___________ on a beach in Hawaii.


Exercise 2. Answer the questions.

  1. What is something you can’t do, but you wish you could do? __________________________________________________________________________
  2. What do you wish you were doing right now? __________________________________________________________________________
  3. What is something you don’t have but wish you had? __________________________________________________________________________
  4. What is something that didn’t happen yesterday, but that you wish had happened? __________________________________________________________________________
  5. What is something that has never happened in your life, but that you wish would happen? __________________________________________________________________________
  6. What is something that happened in your life, but you wish had not happened? __________________________________________________________________________
  7. What is something you have to do but wish you didn’t have to do? __________________________________________________________________________
  8. What is something that will not happen tomorrow, but you wish would happen? __________________________________________________________________________
  9. What is something you don’t know but wish you knew? __________________________________________________________________________
  10. What is something you were unable to do yesterday, but you wish you could have done? __________________________________________________________________________

Exercise 3. Complete the sentences with an appropriate auxiliary verb.

  1. I’m not at home, but I wish I were.
  2. I don’t know her, but I wish I did.
  3. I can’t sing well, but I wish I could.
  4. I didn’t go, but I wish I had.
  5. He won’t talk about it, but I wish he would.
  6. I didn’t read that book, but I wish I ______.
  7. I want to go but I can’t. I wish I ______.
  8. I don’t have a bicycle, but I wish I ______.
  9. He didn’t buy a ticket to the game, but he wishes he ______.
  10. She can’t speak English, but she wishes she ______.
  11. It probably won’t happen, but I wish it ______.
  12. He isn’t old enough to drive a car, but he wishes he ______.
  13. They didn’t go to the movie, but they wish they ______.
  14. I don’t have a driver’s license, but I wish I ______.
  15. I am not living in an apartment, but I wish I ______.


Exercise 4. Imagine that you are in a situation. For each situation, make a sentence with I wish

Example: You’ve eaten too much and now you feel sick. – You say: I wish I hadn’t eaten so much.

  1. You’ve just painted the door red. Now you decide that it doesn’t look very nice. You say: __________________________________________________________________________
  2. You are walking in the country. You would like to take some photographs but you didn’t bring your camera. You say: ____________________________________________________________________
  3. A good friend of yours visited your town but unfortunately you were away when he came. You say: __________________________________________________________________________
  4. You’ve just come back from your holiday. Everything was fine except for the hotel which wasn’t very good. You say: ____________________________________________________________________