Hope and Wish Part Two – Past situations

Learn the different meanings and grammar of the English verbs ‘hope’ and ‘wish’ in this video lesson. This is an important lesson if you’re talking an English exam like IELTS, Cambridge First Certificate or TOEFL. They often have questions on these verbs because the grammar is tricky.
You’ll see lots of examples in action and get clear explanations in this video lesson. This is the second part of a two-part lesson on these verbs. In part one you learnt how we use them to talk about present situations. In part two you’ll learn about past situations.

Click here to see part one on how we use hope and wish to talk about present 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 vs Wish – past situations

If you’re taking a Cambridge exam like IELTS or First Certificate, or if you’re taking TOEFL, this is an important lesson because they often set questions about these verbs. I think they do it because the grammar’s tricky. So let’s work on it and take your English up a level.
This is the second part of our video on wish and hope. In part one, we looked at how we use these verbs to talk about present situations. If you haven’t seen it, you might want to watch that video before you watch this one.
In this video we’re going to look at how we talk about hopes and wishes in the past.
Let’s start with hope.

How’s it going?
Oh OK. But I’ve got so much to do.
Do you want a hand?
Oh thank you. I hoped he’d say that.

So before Jay arrived, I was thinking ‘I hope Jay can help me’.
And I’m talking about a hope I had in the past here. Notice I said ‘would’. So the past tense of hope and then ‘would’.
We often use the contracted form of ‘would’, so it can be difficult to spot.
In this example, we have the simple past form of hope, but we can use other past forms. Let’s see some.

This is our dog Carter.
We adopted him six years ago. Now he’s eight years old now and he’s a wonderful dog.
He drives me crazy because he barks a lot when people come to the door.
He does get a little excited.
We were hoping he’d calm down as he got older.
And that’s what happened.
No, it didn’t.
Yes, it did.
He still goes crazy when the postman comes.
Yeah. We had hoped that he’d stop barking at the mailman, but that didn’t happen. Well, he doesn’t like the mailman. Do you?

So in the past we thought it was possible that Carter would calm down as he got older. Jay thinks he has calmed down, but I don’t.
I said ‘we were hoping he’d calm down’. I could also say ‘we hoped he’d calm down’. That works too.
And you heard another past form of hope.

He still goes crazy when the postman comes.
Yeah. We had hoped that he’d stop barking at the mailman, but that didn’t happen.

We used the past perfect – had hoped. The past perfect indicates that this action didn’t happen. Carter still barks at the mail man.
If we say ‘hoped’ or was ‘hoping’, the action might have happened or might not. It’s not specific.
But if we say ‘had hoped’, it means the action didn’t happen.
So use these structures to talk about past hopes. And if you want to make it clear that an action didn’t happen, use the past perfect.
That’s the verb ‘hope’, but what about ‘wish’? We use ‘wish’ to talk about imaginary situations – improbable or impossible things. Let’s see how that works in the past.

You’re in a good mood.
Yes, I’m playing tennis this afternoon.
Oh, what about the sales meeting?
What sales meeting?
Did I forget to tell you? There’s a sales meeting this afternoon and Kathy wants everyone there.
But I’ve booked a tennis court and everyone’s coming.
Oh, that’s a shame.
I wish you’d told me.

I didn’t tell Jay about the meeting and he’s unhappy about that. He says ‘I wish you’d told me’.
Now, what’s that contraction? Is it would or had? It’s had. We’re using the past perfect again.
We use wish and the past perfect to express regrets about the past – to talk about things that didn’t happen, but we wish they had happened.

I wish Vicki had told me about the sales meeting.
I’m so tired. I wish I’d gone to bed earlier last night.
I wish we hadn’t eaten all those cookies.
Yeah, I’m feeling a little sick now.

These are all things that didn’t happen and we regret them now. We’re not happy about them.
I didn’t tell Jay about the sales meeting. I went to bed late last night and we ate all those cookies.
So if you wish something had happened, it didn’t happen.
And if wish something hadn’t happened, it did happen.
You have to switch positives to negatives, and vice versa, to imagine something unreal.
And remember the verb form here. It’s the past perfect.
Do these structures remind you of anything? They’re similar to third conditional structures – the conditionals we use for unreal and imaginary situations in the past.

Now you have to make a wish and blow out all the candles with one breath. Now take a big breath.

The idea of wishing is if you imagine something enough it will come true by magic. But of course magic isn’t real. When we say ‘I wish… ‘, we distance ourselves from reality and we do that grammatically by shifting back a tense. The same thing happens in 2nd and 3rd conditionals. They’re unreal too.
OK, one more thing before we stop, do you remember this phrase?
‘If only’ is like ‘I wish’, but it’s more emphatic. It means ‘I really wish’. We can use it to talk about present and past situations. Let’s see some past examples.

If only we hadn’t eaten all those cookies.
If only I’d studied harder at school.
If only I’d invested in Apple twenty years ago. I’d be rich now.

So again, these things didn’t happen. Jay ate the cookies. He didn’t study harder and he didn’t invest in Apple. But he’s wishing things were different. ‘If only’ means it’s a strong wish.
And that’s it. It was a lot of grammar so let’s review.
We use ‘hope’ with ‘would’ to talk about past hopes. You can use different past forms of hope. ‘Hoped’ and ‘was hoping’ aren’t specific. You can use them for things that happened or things that didn’t happen. If something didn’t happen and you want to be specific, use the past perfect form of ‘hope’.
If you’re talking about past wishes, use ‘wish’ and the past perfect. Switch positives to negatives and vice versa, to make things unreal
And if you want to add emphasis, use ‘if only’. ‘If only’ is followed by the same structures as ‘I wish…’
So now you know how we use the verbs ‘wish’ and ‘hope’ in English. Please share this lesson with a friend if you found it useful. Subscribe to our channel and click the notification bell so you don’t miss our future videos. Bye now.

This is Carter.
We adopted him when he was six years old. Now he’s eight.
He barks a lot when people come to the door.
He gets a little excited.
This is Carter.
We adopted him six years ago.

Click here to see part one on how we use hope and wish to talk about present 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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