Verb Tense Exercise (119)

The language of wishing requires a particular combination of verb tenses, according to whether the wish is for the present, the past, or the future. Choose the correct verb form for each of the following sentences.

  • I didn’t see the first part of the Hobbit movie. I wish I ________ it.

  • Our house is too small for our growing family. I wish we ________ a bigger one.

  • I wasn’t thinking when I wrote that comment. I wish I __________ that.

  • I really miss living in London. I wish I ___________ there right now.

  • I was interviewed, but they didn’t offer me the job. I wish they _________ it to me.

Answers and Explanations

1. I didn’t see the first part of the Hobbit movie. I wish I had seen it.

When we want to talk about situations in the past that we are not happy about or actions that we regret, we use the verb to wish followed by the past perfect.

2. Our house is too small for our growing family. I wish we had a bigger one.

When we want to talk about situations in the present that we are not happy about but can’t change, we use simple past.

3. I wasn’t thinking when I wrote that comment. I wish I hadn’t written that.

The regretted situation is in the past; use past perfect.

4. I really miss living in London. I wish I were there right now.

The situation is in the present; use simple past. Note: some speakers would use "was," but many speakers and guides still observe the use of the subjunctive with unreal situations.

5. I was interviewed, but they didn’t offer me the job. I wish they had offered it to me.

The situation is in the past; use past perfect.

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