Hope and Wish – Part One – Present situations

Learn the different meanings and grammar of the English verbs ‘hope’ and ‘wish’ in this video lesson. With clear examples and explanations you can master the tricky grammar. In part one you’ll learn about present situations.
You’ll learn three structures we commonly use with hope and three with wish, and you’ll also learn how to use the phrase if only to add emphasis.

Click here to see past two on how we use hope and wish to talk about past situations.
Click here to find out how we use wish and hope to give good wishes to someone.
Click here to find out how we use hope, wait, expect and look forward to to talk about the future.

Hope or wish? How to talk about present situations

We’ve had requests for a video about these verbs. There’s a lot to cover so we’re breaking it into two parts. We’ve already made another video about how we use these verbs to wish people nice things. You can see it here.
In this video we’re looking at different structures we use with wish and hope to talk about present situations. We’ll look at three structures with hope and three with wish and we’ll also look at another phrase you can use.
Wish and hope. We use both these verbs to say what we want or would like to happen. The difference is how possible or likely it is. With hope, there’s a real possibility.

I’m expecting a baby. I hope it’s a boy.

Is it possible she’ll have a boy? Yes. There’s a fifty-fifty chance. Notice the structure. After hope she used a present tense, but she was talking about a future event.
She could also say ‘I hope it will be a boy.’ That works too. But we often use the present tense because the verb hope already implies the future.
OK. Let’s look at another structure.

Are you going to go to college, Ksenia?
Yes, I’m hoping to study animal behavior.
Oh you’ll be great at that.

So Ksenia wants to study animal behavior. She isn’t sure if she can yet, but again, it’s a real possibility.
Notice she said hoping. She could also say I hope to study animal behavior. That’s correct too, but we often use hope in the progressive or continuous form.
And notice that ‘to’. We can follow hope with an infinitive form of a verb.
You can say ‘I hope to go to college’, or ‘I’m hoping to go to college’. But you can’t say ‘I hope go to college’. You need the ‘to’.
Great. So these are the key structures we use to talk about hopes we have in the present and we use them all to talk about future possibilities.
Now what about wish? Again we use wish for things we want to happen, but this time, it’s things that are not probable, or they’re things that can’t happen.

Hey, how’s it going.
I’m feeling a little down.
Ah. Well I just met our new neighbor.
Oh yeah, what’s he like?
His name is Tom and he speaks six languages.
Wow, how old is he?
About thirty.
Hmmm.
What’s the matter?
I wish I spoke six languages and I wish I were younger.
Oh, don’t be sad about it.
Hmmm.
I wish I knew how to cheer you up.

It’s impossible for Jay to be younger. He doesn’t speak six languages. And I don’t know how to cheer him up.
They’re things we want to happen, but they’re impossible. We’re sad about that so they’re things we regret.
So hopes are about real possibilities, but these wishes are about imaginary things and they express regrets.
Another way to think about the difference is hope is more optimistic than wish. If you’re optimistic, you think good things can happen. But if you’re pessimistic, you think they can’t, or they’re very unlikely.
So what’s the structure here?

I wish I were younger
I wish I spoke six languages.
I wish I knew how to cheer Jay up.

After wish we use a past tense verb. These are wishes we have in the present, but the past tense indicates it’s an imaginary or unreal situation.
Another thing. Notice Jay said ‘I were’, not ‘I was’. Normally the past tense of the verb ‘be’ goes I was… You were… He was… But after ‘wish’ we say ‘were’. Why? We just do. If you want to look it up, it’s called a subjunctive, but trust me. You don’t need to know. Just remember, with the verb be, use ‘were’ after wish. And if you forget, it’s no big deal. Native speakers often say ‘I wish I was…’ and ‘I wish he was…’. BUT if you’re taking an English exam like IELTS or TOEFL or Cambridge First Certificate, say were. They often have questions about the verb wish and you’ll need to be grammatically correct.
OK, ready for another one? There’s another structure we often use with ‘wish’. See if you can spot it.

You know I wish you would put the lid back on the toothpaste.
Hmph.
And I wish you wouldn’t leave the seat up on the toilet.
Hmph. You know what I wish.
What?
I wish you’d stop complaining.
Hmph.

I was complaining about Jay’s behavior. When we’re annoyed about something and we’re complaining, we use ‘wish’ with ‘would’.
We’re talking about something we’d like to happen, so this is similar to those wish sentences with the past tense. The difference is we want SOMETHING to change here, or we want SOMEONE to change their behavior.
Use wish with would when you’re annoyed about something and you want to complain.
OK, here’s a similar structure. This one’s easy. See if you can spot it.

I wish I could do that.

Jay said wish and could. So instead of would he said could.

I wish I could whistle.

We use would to talk about something we want to happen and could to talk about something we want to be able to do. Another example.

I wish we had more money, Jay.
Why?
Then we could go on vacation.
Yeah, Egypt.
Or Brazil.
Oh, I wish we could go to Brazil.

We want to travel but it’s impossible because we can’t afford it. Again we’re talking about something we regret here. We often use wish to to express regrets.
OK, now before we stop, there’s another phrase you’ll often hear – If only.

Do you think Carter likes it when I stroke his back?
Yes, I think he does.
I wish we knew what he was thinking.
Yeah, if only he could talk.

‘I wish’ and ‘If only’ mean the same thing, but ‘If only’ is a little stronger. We use it to express a strong wish. You can use it with all the same structures as wish, when you want to add emphasis.
And that’s it – that was the final phrase!
Phew! That was a lot of grammar, so let’s review. We looked at three structures with hope. We use these structures to talk about things that we want to happen in the future and they’re things that are possible.
And then we looked at three structures with wish. Again, things we want to happen, but this time they’re things that are impossible or unlikely to happen.
And then we looked at the phrase ‘if only’. We use this phrase with the same structures as wish when we want to express a strong feeling.
So now you know how we use hope and wish to talk about present situations. But what about past situations? We’re going to look at them in another video. So make sure you’ve subscribed to our channel and clicked the notification bell, so you don’t miss it.
If you’ve enjoyed this lesson, please share it with a friend and see you next Friday. Bye now.

Click here to see past two on how we use hope and wish to talk about past situations.
Click here to find out how we use wish and hope to give good wishes to someone.
Click here to find out how we use hope, wait, expect and look forward to to talk about the future.

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