Nov 17

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Talking about wishes is no easy task in English. Let’s do a quick quiz to see if you know the most important rules!

Scroll down for explanations about how to use “wish”


We talk a lot about about our wishes, hopes, and even frustration with whatever is going on. Take this quick quiz to practice how to do this in English.

How to use “wish” in English?


1 Using wish to say ‘want’

You can use the verb ‘wish’ to talk about something you ‘want’ to do or ‘would like’ to do. Using ‘wish’ is more formal than ‘want’ or ‘would like’.

Pattern: Wish + to + infinitive

For example:

I wish to talk to your manager. (very formal)

I would like to talk to your manager. OR I’d like to talk to your manager (neutral, but polite)

I want to talk to your manager. (informal and not polite)


2. Using ‘wish’ in phrases

Pattern: Wish + somebody + something

For example:

He wished me a happy birthday.

The guests wish everyone Happy Easter.


3. Talking about wishes referring to the present

Pattern: Wish + (that) + past tense (form)

In spoken English we rarely use ‘that’ in these sentences, but it’s okay to use it.

For example:

I wish (that) I was rich. – But unfortunately, I’m not!

I wish (that) I could speak Spanish. – But unfortunately, I can’t!

I wish (that) it wasn’t raining. – But unfortunately, it is raining!


BUT: be careful not to confuse ‘wish’ and ‘hope’. We use ‘hope’ to talk about the future:

Pattern: hope + present tense / will (future) / going to (future)

I hope it won’t rain tomorrow.

I hope you can come tomorrow.

I hope I’ll have a big house one day.

I hope you are going to have a great time tonight.


Pattern: Wish + (that) + would + verb
We may also have other types of wishes in the present: for example, when someone does something that annoys us, and we want them to stop or change what they do.

For example:

I wish you would do the laundry. – You never do the laundry, and I don’t like that!

I wish she would pick up her toys. – She never picks up after herself, and I don’t like that!

We just wish the neighbors would be easier to get on with. – They are difficult people, and I’d like them to change!


When you talk about present wishes about yourself, stick with the first pattern!


4. Talking about wishes about the past

 Pattern: Wish + (that) + past perfect (form of verb)

 For example:

She wishes (that) she hadn’t dropped out of college. – But unfortunately, she dropped out before she graduated.

I wish I had gotten up earlier, then I wouldn’t be late now. – But unfortunately, I didn’t get up early, and I’m late.


For more practice, do the test again!



Featured image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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