Grammar Quiz #20: Verb Tense

By Mark Nichol

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.

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

a) saw
b) would see
c) had seen

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

a) had
b) would have
c) had had

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

a) didn’t write
b) hadn’t written
c) wouldn’t write

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

a) were
b) had been
c) would be

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

a) had offered
b) offered
c) would offer

Answers and Explanations

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

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.
a) had

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.
b) hadn’t written

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

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

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.
a) had offered

The situation is in the past; use past perfect.


1 Response to “Grammar Quiz #20: Verb Tense”

  • D.A.W.

    2. “Our house is too small for our growing family. I wish [that] we had a bigger one. answer: had”
    “When we want to talk about situations in the present that we are not happy about but can’t change, we use [the] simple past.”
    This is the use of the subjunctive mood.
    “that we had a bigger one” is a contrafactual (counterfactual) situation.
    As “The Fiddler on the Roof” sang, “If I were a wealthy man”
    is a contrafactual situation.
    “If an alien flying saucer landed on the South Lawn of the White House,” is subjunctive because it is hypothetical, and nobody knows if this will ever happen or not.
    “To be, or not to be. That is the question,” also involves a form of the subjective mood.
    Other moods include indicative, interrogatory, and imperative.
    When the German guard yells ‘Raus!, this is short for “Herauskomm!”, which is the imperative mood: “Get your tails out here!”
    D.A.W.

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