Learning English
Grammar Rules: ▼ Tenses ▼ Futures ▼ Conditionals ▼ Relative Clauses ▼ Passives ▼ Reported Speech ▼ Questions ▼ Articles ▼ Adjectives ▼ Modal Verbs ▼ Gerunds/Infinitives
Grammar Exercises
Grammar Terms
FCE practice

Conditional Type Structures


Wish structures

You can use "wish" to talk about the future (with a similar meaning to "want") like this:

I wish to make a complaint.

However, this isn't very common in spoken English - it sounds very formal. It's more normal to use "wish" to talk about imaginary situations.

I wish I lived in a castle

I live in a small flat. I wish I lived in a castle!

I wish I had bought a bigger house.

I wish I lived in a castle.
wish + past simple
= imaginary present
I wish I'd bought a big house.
wish + past perfect
= imaginary past

We can use if only in exactly the same way as I wish. For example:

If only I lived in a castle!

And supposing/suppose and imagine also use the same grammar.

Suppose I lived in a castle! That would be wonderful!

Imagine I had bought a bigger house. I wouldn't have any money now!

Wish/If only: Advanced Points

It is possible to use wish/if only + would when we talk about present habits or future possibilities. It means something is possible, but you don't think it will happen. It is often used to show you are annoyed with something / someone.

I wish Maria spoke English.

I wish Maria would speak English.

In the first example, Maria can't speak English. In the second example with would, she can speak English, but she chooses not to.

The teacher wishes she could have longer holidays!

Wish structures practice

Next lesson: would rather