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Expressing wishes in the past, present and future
Carlos Alberto Gutierrez from Mexico writes:
  I would like to know about expressing wishes in the present, past and future.
In the statement: I didn't receive my package. I wish I had
why is it had in the short form and not did?
 
 
Roger Woodham replies:
 
 
wish + infinitive
 
 
We sometimes use wish + infinitive as a formal alternative to want or would like with reference to present and future wish situations:
 
 
I wish to make a complaint and would like to see the manager.
I do not wish to renew my subscription and would be grateful
if my name could be deleted from your database.
I don't ever wish to see you again! she said and stormed out of the restaurant.
I don't wish to seem ungrateful, but I already have all the T-shirts I need.
 
 
wished + infinitive
 
 
Note that wished to + infinitive is not so often used to describe past wishes. Instead, we would normally use wanted to + infinitive for this purpose:
 
 
We wanted to see the Crown Jewels but couldn't because the Tower of London had already closed.
I wanted to work from home last Friday but my boss wouldn't let me.
 
 
 
 
Wished to + infinitve is possible in these examples, but it sounds a bit stilted.
 
 
 
 
wishing for the impossible: wish that + past tenses
 
 
To express wishes for unlikely or impossible situations and to express regrets,
we use wish that + constructions with would, could, was, were or past tenses.
Note that although we are using past tense forms, we are talking about present and future situations. Compare the following:
 
 
I don't speak any foreign languages, but I wish (that) I could speak Spanish. I'm hopeless at foreign languages, but I wish I spoke Spanish and French.

I'm not hard-working at all - I'm really lazy - but I wish (that) I weren't. It's only Tuesday today, but I wish it was Saturday.
 
 
 
 
Note that was and were are fully interchangeable with first, second and third person pronouns, singular and plural. Arguably, were sounds more formal than was. Note also that that is optional in all these that-clauses.
 
 
My wife has to work such long hours, but I wish she didn't (have to).
I have to prepare all the meals. I wish (that) I didn't.
And now the dishwasher doesn't work. I wish it did.
 
 
 
 
Note also that we use wish that + could when we are talking about people's ability to do things and wish that + would when we are talking about things that we would like people to do or not to do.
 
 
I can't eat anything with nuts in - I'm allergic to them - but I wish I could.
I know your parents won't let you come to the nightclub, but I wish you could. I know you don't really want to come to the nightclub, but I wish you would.
He keeps sending me text messages, but I wish he wouldn't.
 
 
hopes and wishes: hope that + present / future
 
 
Note that for wishes about things that are positive and seem likely in the future, we normally use hope + that-clause with present simple or future will forms:
 
 
I hope you'll get top marks in your English test (NOT: I wish you'll getů) I can see you're not well now, but I hope you recover in time for the match. (NOT: I wish you recoveredů OR I wish you'd recoveredů OR I wish you'll recoverů)
 
 
past regrets: wish + past perfect
 
 
To talk about wishes and regrets about past situations, we use wish with the past perfect, as in your example, Carlos, where you have use the shortened form of the past perfect:
 
 
I didn't ever receive the parcel from my granny, but I wish I had (received it). The parcel never arrived. I wish (that) it hadn't got lost in the post.
 
 
 
 
Note that wish with past tenses and with past perfect is used in a similar way to conditional sentences and that if only can sometimes be used as an alternative to wish:
 
 
I wish I had worked harder at university. If only I had worked harder at university, I would've got a better job.
I wish I had done more travelling in my youth. If I had travelled more widely, I am sure I would be more open-minded now.
I wish you could come with me to Cancun this summer.
If you could only come with me to Cancun, that would make it a perfect summer.
 
 
   
Tower Bridge, London
 
 
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