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 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 :)
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.
* 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.)
* 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?