Wishes about the present
We use wish + past Tense (simple and continuous) to express regret about present situations:
– I wish I was taller = (I’m not very tall)
– I wish I was going with you = (but I’m not)
– I wish you were more help. = (you are not)
I wish I were can replace I wish I was. To many people, I wish I were sounds more correct:
I wish I were taller.
We use wish + could to express a wish for a present situation to be different:
I wish I would tell her about it. I wish I could tell her about it.
Past Simple + present I wish I knew the answer. (= I don’t know)
Past Simple + present I wish I was /were better at sports. (= I’m not)
Past Continuous + present I wish I was /were going with you. (= I’m not)
Could + present I wish I could give you an answer. (= I can’t)
Would + future I wish you would be quiet. (= Your talking irritates me.)
Past Perfect + past I wish I had known you then. (= but I didn’t)
Could have + past I wish I could have explained. (= I wasn’t able to)
Wishes about the future
We use wish + would to say how we would like somebody to behave in the future:
X I wish you to stop talking. I wish you would stop talking.
X I wish that they will stop arguing. I wish they would stop arguing.
• We can also use this pattern in situations that do not involve people:
I wish this car would go faster.
Wishes about the past
We use wish + Past Perfect when we have Regrets about the past:
I wish I hadn’t taken your advice. (= but I did)
I wish she could have come. (= but she didn’t)
If only can be more emphatic than I wish. The verb forms after if only are the same as the patterns with wish:
If only I had more money! (= but I haven’t)
If only I was going on holiday with you!
If only you were here. (= but you’re not)
If only you could be here! (= but you’re not)
If only I‘d listened to you! (=but I didn’t)
If only he could have explained! (=but he wasn’t able to)
A nurse has recorded the most common regrets of the dying, and among the top ones is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’. What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life? top-five-regrets-of-the-dying