We’re going to focus on the verb WISH to talk about things we would like to be different but we cannot change. Why can we not change them? Well, either we don’t have the power to change them or they happened in the past, so it’s too late to change them!
Let’s start with a simple example: I WISH I WERE taller. I WISH I WERE taller. Let’s look at this phrase carefully to understand it. I WISH I WERE taller. What does it mean? Firstly, this is a situation I would like to change. I’m not tall or I’m not tall enough. I want to be taller. Can I change this situation? No! I can’t stretch my body to be taller! I can’t eat special food to be taller. So this is a situation I can’t change.
Secondly, am I talking about now, the present? Or am I talking about the past? Well, this is a wish about the present. I want to change this situation now. I’m not happy now, in the present. So, we use WISH followed by the verb in the past, in this case WERE, from the verb TO BE. So we don’t say I wish I am, we say I WISH I WERE. That is because this is not a real situation. So in English, we use the verb in the past to talk about an unreal situation in the present, in this case: I WISH I WERE.
Now you might think, why do we use WERE and not WAS? I WISH I WAS? I WAS, YOU WERE, right? Well, the simple answer is that you could use either. They are both possible. You can say: I WISH I WERE or I WISH I WAS and everyone will understand you. In fact, it’s very common for people to say I WISH I WAS. It sounds more informal and you’ll hear people using it when they’re speaking all the time. So, I WISH I WERE taller, or I WISH I WAS taller. However, grammatically it is more correct to say I WISH I WERE, because this is not a real situation.
OK, that’s how you talk about a wish or desire in the present, a situation you can’t change. Remember, use the verb WISH followed by the verb in the past, in this example I WISH I WERE or I WISH I WAS, if you want to sound a bit more informal. I WISH I WERE taller, I WISH I WERE smarter, I WISH I WERE richer, I WISH I WERE faster, I WISH I WERE stronger! What examples can you think of?
So these are all examples of wishes about the present. How do we use it in the past? We’ll look at that in the next lesson. Good luck and see you in the next class!