grammar: wishes and related forms


Lesson 6 in student’s book, which is about politics, has a second grammar subject besides conditionals. This grammar subject is I wish & If only forms. They’re introduced in 6B Women in politics. Today in class we’ve studied something more than what is said in the language reference section thanks to a couple of photocopies our teacher has given to us. In addition we’ve done some exercises.

Photocopies about wishes and related forms

wishes

* Wishes about the present

For wishes about the present we use I wish + the past simple. The time referred to is an imaginary present.

  • I wish, I knew the answer to this question. (I do not know the answer.)
  • I wish I didn’t have so much work to do. (I do have a lot of work.)

* Wishes about the past

For wishes about the past we use I wish + the past perfect. The time referred to is past time.

  • I wish I had gone to your party last week. (I did not go.)

* Wishes about the future

We can use could to refer to a future event.

  • I wish June could meet me next week.

We also use could to refer to something that is generally difficult or impossible.

  • I wish I could drive
  • I wish I could contact him, but I don’t have my mobile phone with me.

We can also use have to to refer to a future event.

  • I wish I didn’t have to get up early tomorrow.

* Wishes using would

When we want to complain about a bad habit we use I wish + would.

  • I wish Peter wouldn’t chew gum all the time.

We also use I wish + would to refer to something that we would like to happen.

  • I wish the police would do something about these people!

NOTE: You complain about OTHER people :)

If only

We can replace I wish with If only for emphasis.

  • If only I knew the answer to this question!
  • If only I had gone to your party last week!

In speech, only is often heavily stressed.

It’s time

* The construction it’s time I/you/we … is followed by a past tense.

  • Sorry, but it’s time we went home.

The meaning here is similar to a second conditional.

  • If we went home, it would be better.

High can be added for extra emphasis.

  • It’s high time you learned to look after yourself.

* It’s time can also be used with the infinitive. The meaning changes slightly.

  • It’s time you started work! (you are being lazy and not working.)
  • It’s time to start work. (a simple statement of fact.)

I’d rather

* The construction I’d rather I/you/we … us followed by a past tense.

  • I’d rather you didn’t tell John about this.

* The meaning here is similar to a second conditional.

  • If you didn’t tell John about this, it would be better.

Suppose and imagine

In informal speech we can use suppose or imagine in place of if. The construction is a normal second conditional.

  • Suppose you lost your keys. What would you do?
  • Imagine you were rich. How would you feel?

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