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Grammatik auf Englisch - Wünschen oder hoffen?

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Gramatik auf Englisch, Englisch Gramatik, Englische Gramatik, Englisch Grammar, Wünschen, Hoffen

Wanting things to be different than the way they are, were or will be is a standard human condition. You’d think the rules for expressing such sentiments would be easy, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Especially when it comes to using the past tense, you’ll find mile-long pages of blog entries on the Internet – where native speakers fight it out – that try to pin down the exact rule.
Here’s what you need to know to get it right every time.

What are you wishing for?
There are three different types of wishing:
Wishing that the past, present or future was, is or will be different than the way it really was, is or will be – the feeling is that the wish will not or is unlikely to come true

Stating a regret

Stating a complaint

To express any of these wishes, there are two constructs you can use:
I wish ...
If only …


The trick is knowing what verb tense to use. Here are the rules:

If you are stating a wish, use the simple past to show that you want the current situation to change:

Jonathan wishes he lived in Paris.
Samantha wishes she had a Porsche.
If only he didn’t eat meat, I’d probably be more interested in him.
If only the apartment looked more modern, I’d buy it in a flash.
I wish I knew my way around a computer better.


Use the continuous past to show that you want the current ongoing action to change:
They all wish they were lying on the beach in the sun instead of scraping ice off their cars.
If only we were eating an oily salami pizza right now instead of this raw tofu salad.


If you are stating a regret, use the past perfect.

I wish I had majored in IT technology.
My father wished that I had stayed home instead of moving to Surrey.
If only I hadn’t eaten the pudding, I wouldn’t be so sick now.


If you are stating a complaint, use would + verb.
I wish you wouldn’t arrive late for our Monday meeting anymore.
I wish you would take out the dust bin every morning on your way to work.
I wish this printer would print faster.


Was or were?
Now if you were paying close attention to that last example, you probably noticed “she were quiet” and thought “Howdy Doody, I found an error in OBET!” Far from it.
While most native-speakers these days might say “I wish she was quiet”, this is, in fact, incorrect. The issue hinges on the subjunctive mood, which is used to express unreal conditions. You may wish Susan to be quieter, but the reality is that she is not quiet and probably won’t be. Because the condition is unreal – or hypothetical – the
subjunctive mood is called for. In the subjunctive, were is used in all cases:

If I were, if we were
If you were, if you were
If he/she/it were, if they were


This means, specifically in this case, you would and should use were with I:
I wish I were better at physics.
If only I were going with you.


Splitting hairs
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as saying that were should always be used with wish and if only. Was can also be correct, but only when the condition is not hypothetical:
If Mary were rich, she’d buy a villa in Monaco. (unreal future wish – Mary is not rich and she’s not likely to be)

If Mary was rich, you would not have known it from looking at her now. (past conditional – perhaps she was rich)


This explains the confusion many native speakers have. Because both was and were can be correct, many people no longer have an ear for which word is correct in which context.

Additional tips
To say you want something to happen in the future without the feeling of complaint or regret or a hypothetical case that will not be realised, use hope instead of wish :
I hope you will be successful.

You can also use wish in specific expressions:
I wish you luck.
We wish you a Happy Christmas.


You can use wish + infinitive as a stronger yet still polite way of saying want:
I wish to speak to your manager.

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Gramatik auf Englisch, Englisch Gramatik, Englische Gramatik, Englisch Grammar, Wünschen, Hoffen

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