Wish vs. Hope

1. Wish

There are different types of ‘wish’ structures:

1. Wanting a change of state
2. Wishing for ability
3. Regret
4. Annoyance / want for external activity to stop or start
5. Congratulations

2. Wanting a change of state

To say you wish for a state to change, use:

wish + past tense

I wish I had more money.He wishes he lived in a bigger house.
They wish they didn’t have to work tomorrow.Yu wishes the boss was less mean.

3. Wishing for ability

If there is something you cannot do, but you wish you could do, use:

wish + could

I wish I could fly.I think she wishes she could kill her boyfriend.
Stephanie wishes she could speak French.Mark wishes he could be a dog.

4. Regret

If you regret doing something and wish it had not happened, use:

wish + past perfect tense (had + p.p.)

I wish I hadn’t drunk so much.They wish they had taken the earlier flight.
She wishes they had never got married.Jose wishes he had not called his boss a ‘pig-faced prat’.

5. Annoyance / Irritation

If something is annoying you and you want them to stop, use:

wish + would

I wish the kid next door would stop screaming.She wishes they would pay her more.
He wishes they would stop asking him to work weekends.Kim and Kat wish James would not come to their parties.

6. Formal congratulations

To formally congratulate someone, use:

wish + (adjective) noun

We all wish you a happy retirement.They wish you all the best for the future.
I wish you a merry Christmas.Harry wishes you a peaceful and prosperous new year.

7. Hope

Hope is used for present or future wants.
It is more common than ‘wish’ when talking about personal wants.

8. Hope + present tense

Hope + present tense can be used for things you want to happen now, or for things you want to happen later.

I hope this is the last time we do this.I hope I pass my driving test.
I hope you are having a good time.She hopes he comes on Friday.

9. Hope + future tense

Hope + future is only used for things you want to happen in the future.

She hopes she will be able to come to the party.I hope you won’t get angry when I tell you this.
They hope she will give them a good bonus this year.Terrence hopes the kidnappers will let him go soon.

10. Hope for congratulations

Because using ‘wish’ is used for formal congratulations, many people use ‘hope’ when speaking with friends.

I hope (that) you have a good birthday.They all hope (that) he has a pleasant retirement.
I hope (that) you enjoy your holidays.Giselle hopes her fiance enjoys his bachelor party.

11. Short expressions using hope

Some hope phrases are used a lot in English to answer other people’s comments.

“Do you think Sam will come to the party?”
I hope so.”
“It looks like the company is going to hire Dave.”
“Oh god, I hope not. He’s dreadful.”

12. Exercises

1. Answer these questions:
(i)What do you wish was different about your life?
(ii) Is there anything you wish you had or hadn’t done in the past?
(iii) Does anything annoy you? What do you wish would happen?
(iv) What do you hope will happen in the future?

2. Try to make examples for each of the different methods of using ‘wish’ and ‘hope’.