Grammar » B1+ Grammar lessons and exercises » Wishes and regrets – I wish/if only
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  • Wishes and regrets – I wish/if only

    Exercise 1

    Choose the correct options to complete the text.

    Dear Mum,

    I feel really unhappy! I wish I 1 this job. If only I 2 to you before I made the decision to come here. The people here are unfriendly. l wish they 3 more friendly. And I don't even have breaks! If only I 4 longer breaks.

    Looking at a computer screen all day is tiring; I wish my computer 5 ! And I wish my boss 6 yelling at me all the time. He's always in a bad mood. It's so annoying! Also, I wish there 7 someone here I could talk to, but there is no one I can talk to. I haven't made any friends. If only I 8 some friends when I arrived here, but meeting new people is very difficult. I wish you 9 nearer to me. If only I 10 you more often!

    Please write soon. I miss you!




  • I wish/if only – Grammar chart

    Wishes and regrets – I wish / if only

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    I wish I did

    We can use wish + subject + past simple to talk about things that we would like to be different in the present or future (but that are very unlikely or impossible).

    • I wish things were different, but this is the way they are.  
    • We wish we had enough money to help you.
    • I wish I could be there for you tomorrow.  

    I wish I had done

    We can use wish + subject + past perfect to talk about things that happened in the past and that we regret (we would have wanted them to be different).

    • I wish I hadn’t quit my job two years ago. 
    • I wish we hadn’t wasted all that money. 

    I wish you would do

    We can use wish + person/thing + would + infinitive when we talk about situations that annoy us and would like them to change or to stop.

    • I wish you would stop biting your nails. I hate it when you do it.
    • I wish it would stop raining. It’s been three days!

    We can NOT use this structure to wish about ourselves:

    • I wish I would… blank

    If only

    We can use if only instead of I wish with a very similar meaning. The only difference is that if only is more emphatic.

    • If only I was/were a bit taller!*
    • If only you had followed my advice. 
    • If only you would make a bit of an effort. You are wasting your life! 

    Note that we can use were instead of was with I/he/she after I wish/if only.

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