Forms of "Wish" and "If Only"

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A discussion on the forms of "wish" in the present and past.

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Forms of "Wish" and "If Only"

  1. 1. FORMS OF “WISH” PETER MANGIARACINA 1
  2. 2. THREE FORMS OF WISH • Wish in the present • Wish in the past • Using “If only…” 2
  3. 3. TWO CLAUSES • Sentences with forms of wish usually contain two clauses: Clause 1 Clause 2 I wish (that)I had a million dollars. 3
  4. 4. PRESENT FORM OF WISH The True Situation Expressing a Wish Explanation I don’t know how to dance. I wish (that) I knew how to dance. I have to work tonight. I wish I didn’t have to work tonight People make wishes when they want reality to be different. It’s not necessary to use “that” to subordinate the clause. I’m not rich. I wish I were rich. “Were” is used for all subjects. You drive too fast. I wish you wouldn’t drive so fast. No one has invented a teleportation machine. I wish someone would invent a teleportation machine. • “Would” is used to admonish or make general wishes about the future. Note the use of the past tense in the second (noun) clause. 4
  5. 5. PAST FORM OF WISH The True Situation a. I didn’t study for the test. I failed. b. Dr. Marvin didn’t finish writing his book before he died. His books are great. c. I went to the meeting. It was boring. • Expressing a Wish a. I wish I had studied for the test. b. I wish he had finished his book before he died. c. I wish I hadn’t gone to that meeting. Explanation The past form of wish is about a regret about the past. Note the use of the past perfect in the second (noun) clause. 5
  6. 6. USING “IF ONLY” • Two clauses as with “I wish.” • Stronger than “I wish.” • Same constructions for present and past forms as with“I wish.” 6
  7. 7. EXAMPLES FOR “IF ONLY” • I wasn’t paying attention and I locked my keys in the car. • If only I had been paying attention! • My neighbors have been arguing for the past two hours. • If only they would stop! They’re driving me crazy! • I’m not rich. I can’t date Jennifer Anniston. • If only I were rich! 7

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