The use of the verb wish indicates that the speaker wants reality to be different. As in unreal conditionals, the use of a past or past perfect tense verb indicates that the situation is impossible or unlikely. The use of hope, on the other hand, indicates that the speaker believes something is possible.


Wish can also be used with would to express a desire that someone do something differently.



Glenn wishes Monica liked to hike. (but she doesn't)

Mary Nell wishes she were taller. (but she isn't)

MN wishes she weren’t so short. (but she is)

Leif wishes he could speak Japanese fluently. (but he can't)


past tense verb


BE = were


MN wishes she had learned Spanish when she was young. (but she didn't)

Anne wishes she hadn’t been out of the office when the President called her yesterday. (but she was)

Emily wishes she could have taken ballet lessons last year when her friend took them. (but she couldn't)

past perfect


MN wishes her husband would take her dancing tonight. (he might, but he might not)

Gwyneth wishes she would get an A in Statistics. (she might, but she doesn't know yet)

Sigurd wishes he could study Spanish in Costa Rica next summer. (but he believes he can't)*

Haakon wishes his friend were coming to Seattle during the quarter break. (but he isn't)

would + simp. verb

could + simp. verb

were + verb-ing


*contrast with hope [Sigurd hopes he can go to kayak camp. (he thinks it is possible)]





Use wish ... would to express dissatisfaction or irritation because somebody keeps on doing something that you don't like or an unpleasant situation persists.


Carl wishes Mary Nell wouldn’t go shopping so often. (Mary Nell has a habit of going shopping a lot.)

Jon wishes Melinda wouldn’t leave her toys in the living room. (Melinda often leaves her toys in the living room.)

I wish you would stop making that noise. It is annoying me.

Jeremy wishes it would stop raining so he could play basketball.

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