Follow the steps on this page to learn how to improve:
- grammar range by using the grammar structure “wish + II” to show you’re sad about your life now
- grammar range even more by using II conditional after it
- vocab range by using “really” and “kind of”
- pronunciation by pronouncing the structure well to reflect the meaning.
watch the video
if you need more examples, scroll down for further explanations in the “notes” section, if not, click on the link here, fill in the table, and send it to your teacher.
when your teacher has checked that your sentences are correct, make a video of yourself practicing them and send the video to your teacher. When you make the video, focus on pronunciation. “really” should be stressed, “kind of” should be said to show that it’s not that important.
and that’s it. Keep reading for further practice
watch the video, and practice reporting. Note “she wishES”
Step 5 (if you have anki)
Download the anki deck for more practice from here
the following sentences are from my life at the moment. They are real situations….
1 – I don’t have time to practice the guitar
2 – I sometimes smoke cigarettes
3 – I am tired
4 – I don’t know Chinese 100%
5 – I have to travel a lot
6 – I spend too much time reading the newspaper
If I’m talking with another person, and I want to tell them that
a – I have this situation
b – I am sad / unhappy about it
I can say….
I don’t have time to practice the guitar, and I’m unhappy about it.
I wish I had time to practice the guitar.
If I say… “I wish I didn’t smoke cigarettes” this is the same as saying “I smoke cigarettes and I’m sad / unhappy about it.”
So, the function of “I wish I…” = to tell the other person that you are sad / unhappy about a situation at the moment. You do this by ‘imagining’ a better ‘unreal’ situation. You want to go away from your ‘sad’ / ‘unhappy’ real situation into an ‘unreal one’. Please note, because you’re imagining an unreal situation, use the II (2nd) form of the verb (go = I, went = II , gone = III)
I am tired and I’m sad about this = I wish I wasn’t tired
am – wasn’t (we use ‘not’ because we are imagining the opposite situation)
I don’t know Chinese 100% and I’m unhappy about this = I wish I knew Chinese 100%
don’t know – knew (we don’t use ‘don’t’ because we are imagining the opposite ‘unreal’ situation. The real situation that makes me unhappy is ‘I don’t know Chinese’, so the imaginary / unreal ‘happier’ situation is ‘I knew’)
Note – The II (2nd) form here does not talk about the past!!! I wish I knew Chinese 100% NOW.
We can use the II form like “went, did, played, knew” for different functions.
– One function is to talk about the past “When I was young I knew mathematics well.” Students learn this function first, so they often think automatically that ‘knew’ is past simple or past indefininite, but…..
– Another function is to imagine an unreal present / future “If I knew mathematics now, I could help my child with her homework / I wish I knew mathematics now so I could help my child now.”
– there are more functions of II but I will not
So, the last two
“I wish I didn’t have to travel a lot” = “I have to travel a lot and I’m sad”
“I wish I didn’t spend too much time reading the newspaper” = “I spend a lot of time reading the newspaper and I’m sad about that.”
Look at the following sentences. In which ones do you know 100% how I feel about the situation? Put ‘not sure’ if it’s not clear if I’m unhappy / sad or maybe happy. Put if it is clear that I am sad / unhappy about the situation.
a – I can’t speak French. = not sure (how I feel)
This is a fact, but you can’t say if I am unhappy or not. E.g. I can say “I can’t speak French, and this is not a problem because I don’t like it.”
b – I wish I could speak French. =
This tells you that my real situation is “I can’t speak French, and I am unhappy about it.”
1 – I don’t go to the gym much.
2 – I have a class today.
3 – I wish I didn’t have class today.
4 – I wish I knew English better.
5 – I don’t know English well enough and I’m sad about it.
6 – I play the computer 5 hours a day.
1 = ? 2 = ? 3 = 4 = 5 = 6 = ?
Look at the following pictures. The people use ‘I wish I…..’ to tell you about a situation in their life that they are sad / unhappy about. What are the situations?
The situation = I don’t know and I’m sad / unhappy about this = I wish I knew
The situation = I don’t work there and I’m unhappy / sad = I wish I worked there
the sad / unhappy situation = ?
sad / unhappy situation =
sad / unhappy situation =
sad / unhappy situation =
3 = I’m not with Michelle / 4 = I can’t kill my parents / 5 = I can’t forget you / 6 = I can’t hate you / 7 = I can’t give you a hug.
Notes on the notes:
1 – As you can see, it’s typical for us to use this function with ‘I can’t – I wish I could’. This is because “I can’t….” is often something that is sad for us
2 – if the real situation is connected with ‘not much’ / ‘not well’ / too we often use ‘more’ / ‘better’ / so with the ‘I wish…’
e.g. I don’t see you much and I’m sad about this = I wish I saw you more (‘a lot’ is also possible)
I don’t speak well = I wish I spoke better. (‘well’ is also possible)
I smoke too much = I wish I didn’t smoke so much
3 – I wish I IS NOT “I want”. If you want a cup of coffee, say “I want / would like to have a cup of coffee.”If you say “I wish I had a cup of coffee.” it is like saying “I am sad / unhappy that I don’t have a cup of coffee
4 – don’t use it to talk about a future situation ‘will’. For example
“Tomorrow I’ll work a lot and I’m unhappy about this.” We can’t say “I wish I won’t / wouldn’t work tomorrow”.
If you are talking about the future but using a present verb and NOT ‘will’, e.g. ‘am’, you can use ‘wish’
e.g. “I am working tomorrow and I’m sad about this.” = “I wish I wasn’t working tomorrow.” (note that ‘working’ doesn’t change)
“I am going to a boring party tonight, it’s annoying.” = “I wish I wasn’t going to a boring party tonight.”
5 – we can use a structure “I wish to do”, but it has a different function. “I wish to go” = “I want to go”. It doesn’t say that you’re sad / talk about your feelings, it just says that you ‘want’. This structure for ‘wan’t’ is formal, so use it in business letters, not when having a conversation. You can see more examples here .
6 – don’t forget the second ‘I’. A typical mistake is…. “I wish wasn’t tired”
7 – don’t use ‘would’ with “I wish I…”. A typical mistake is “I wish I wouldn’t be tired”
Practice using the function ‘I wish I..’ to tell someone about a sad / unhappy situation at the moment in the following sentences
I can’t be with you and I’m sad about this = I wish I …..
I wish I could be with you
I don’t help you more and I’m sad about this = I wish..
I wish I helped you more
I don’t have a good relationship with my boss = I wish….
I wish I had a good …..
I play the computer 5 hours a day, it’s bad. = I wish I
I wish I didn’t play the computer 5 hours a day
I have to go to work tomorrow. Grrrrrr. = I wish..
I wish I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow.
I’m tired = I wish …
I wish I wasn’t tired
I have class today, and I don’t want to go. = I wish …
I wish I didn’t have class today
I’m going to the doctor today, I’m unhappy about this = I wish ..
I wish I wasn’t going to the doctor today
I drink too much alcohol. It’s very sad. = I wish I…
I wish I didn’t drink alcohol so much (or – I wish I didn’t drink alcohol)
I can’t cook well, it’s a problem. = I wish…
I wish I could cook well