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Wish/if only



We can use "wish":
"wish" / "if only"

We can use "wish" and "if only" to express an unlikely or impossible desire or a regret:

The subjunctive mood

Expressions using "wish" and "if only" are examples of the subjunctive mood, which is used to express unlikely or impossible desires (or recommendations, without "wish" / "if only"). In the subjunctive mood, we only use "were" (not "was"):

Conditional clauses

We can use "wish" and "if only" to describe an imagined or impossible condition in the past or present followed by a main clause that describes the imagined result.

Second conditional structure (link to worksheet) for impossible desires in the present:
Third conditional structure (link to worksheet):

Form - "wish"

We use the present simple of "wish" to express a present desire for something in the future.


Complete the sentences using "wish" and the verb in brackets (where applicable):

  • I with the manager, please. (speak)
  • She him a happy birthday.
  • He at the conference. (not present)
  • We you a happy anniversary.

Form - "wish" / "if only"

We do not use "if only" in question form.

The subjunctive mood


Conditional clauses

Further practice

Complete the sentences with the correct answer from a, b, c or d:

Check my answers



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