“I Wish” Construction

“I Wish” Construction

“Sometimes  I wish the aliens would abduct me and crown me as their leader.”

George Noory, an American radio talk show host

We use wish with the Past Simple or Past Continuous to express regret about present situations:

I wish I went to the same school. (but I don’t)

I wish I was taller. (but I’m not)

I wish I was traveling with you. (but I’m not)

I wish I/he/she/it were can replace I wish I/he/she/it was. To many people, I wish I/he/she/it were sounds more correct.

We use wish with could to express a wish for a present situation to be different:

I wish I could play chess. (but I cannot)

I wish you could tell me the secret. (but you can’t)

We use wish with would to say how we would like somebody to behave in the future:

I wish you would work a little harder. (harder than now)

I wish my parents would stop fighting. (I hate it when they do it now)

We can use this pattern in situations that don’t involve people:

I wish the service would be improved. (because now it’s awful)

I wish the Internet would be faster. (it’s too slow now)

We use wish with the Past Perfect when we have regrets about the past:

I wish I had listened to you. (but I didn’t)

I wish you hadn’t broken the glass. (but you did)


verb form after wish time reference examples (+ meaning)
Past Simple present I wish I lived in New York. (but I don’t live in New York)
Past Simple present I wish I was/were better at math. (but I’m not good at math)
Past Continuous present I wish I was/were standing there with you right now. (but I’m not)
could present I wish I could invite you to the party. (but I can’t)
would future I wish you would stop interrupting me. (but you keep interrupting me)
Past Perfect past I wish I had got that job. (but I didn’t)
could have past I wish I could have passed the test. (but I wasn’t able to do it)


1. Rednex. “Wish You Were Here”

The lyrics are here.

I wish you were here. (but you are not)

2. Roxette. “Wish I Could Fly”

The lyrics are here.

I wish I could fly out in the blue, over this town following you.

I wish I could fly around and around, over this town, the dirt on the ground.

(but I can’t fly)

3. Phil Collins. “I Wish It Would Rain Down”

The lyrics are here.

I wish it would rain down on me. (in the future)

4. Rick Springfield. “Concrete Heart” 

The lyrics are here.

I wish I had a concrete heart. (but I don’t)

5. Jennifer Lopez. “First Love”

The lyrics are here.

I wish you were my first love.


The construction if only can be more emphatic than I wish. The verb forms after if only are the same as the patterns with I wish:

If only I didn’t have to rent an apartment! (but I have to)

If only I was going to the cinema with you. (but I’m not)

If only you were here. (you are not)

If only it would stop raining! (in the future)

If only I could sing. (I can’t)

If only I hadn’t bought this car! (but I did)

If only I could have answered your question. (but I wasn’t able to)

I wish I could impress her with my talent! If only I could play the guitar!

Materials used: “Grammar and Vocabulary for First Certificate” by L.Prodromou

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