Wish + Past Perfect

1. Regrets

Regrets are:

  • things that you did, but wish you had not
  • things you did not do, but wish you did

To talk about regrets, use:

  • subject + wish + past perfect

*The past perfect = had + perfect participle (p.p.)
P.p is done, gone, seen, eaten, etc.

RegretSubjectWishPast perfectExample sentence
I did not study hard.IwishI had studied harderI wish I had studied harder.
He did not go with her.Hewisheshe had gone with herHe wishes he had gone with her.
Denise said something stupid.Denisewishesshe hadn’t said thatDenise wishes she hadn’t said that.
I ate three pizzas for lunch.IwishI hadn’t eaten three pizzas for lunchI wish I hadn’t eaten three pizzas for lunch.
We did not see the movie.Wewishwe had seen the movieWe wish we had seen the movie.
They did something wrong.Theywishshe hadn’t done thatThey wish she hadn’t done that.
I called her a ‘horse-faced idiot’.IwishI hadn’t called her a ‘horse-faced idiot’I wish I hadn’t called her a ‘horse-faced idiot’. Now she won’t talk to me.

*Note: Remember that wish pushes a sentence back one tense, so although this is about a past event, it uses the past perfect tense, not the past tense.

2. Exercises

1. Finish these sentences:
(i) I wish I had … when I was at school.
(ii) Charlie wishes he hadn’t … his wife’s father.
(iii) The government wishes it could …

2. Think of three regrets from the past, and explain them using the ‘I wish + past perfect’ structure.

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