I Wish – I wish I were, I wish I was


Today we learn about the word Wish. Did you know it can be both a noun and a verb? Yup… Also, is there a difference between Want and Wish? Listen and find out! Hope you enjoy today’s episode :)


Hey amigos, you are listening to English Made Simple, this is episode #66, numero sesenta y seis.

Woohoo! Number 66, awesome! Welcome amigos, my name is Milena from www.englishmadesimple.net.

How’s it? How was your Christmas break, hope you had a good one! This is the best time to relax, to take it easy and enjoy the company of friends and family. Hope you had fun, hope you had a great time!

So, in the last episode, the short and sweet episode, number #65 I mentioned this special flavour of ice-cream, helado, called toasted flour, harina, tostada. Actually, I was looking for it in Australia, but I couldn’t find it. Damn it! I was hooked on it in Chile.

Hey, before we begin, I’d like to send a special hello to another raving fan of English Made Simple, greetings to Joao from Brazil, thank you so much for your nice comments, Joao. Thanks heaps, or how do you say in Portuguese muito obrigado! Oh my favourite cocktail is caipirinha (this cocktail is slowly becoming popular in Australia, again it’s hard to find this cocktail in Australia, dios mio! Oh my goodness!

So, let’s continue with today’s episode guys.

Many of my students get confused about the word WISH. When do we use this word in English?

Some of my students get confused whether to use WANT or WISH when making requests.

So in this episode, I’d like to try and simplify this as much as possible. Let’s start off with an easy explanation first.

The first thing you need to know about the word Wish is that it can be both a noun and a verb.

It is also a synonym of the word Want. Btw, both WANT and WISH are regular verbs, the past tense of Want is Wanted and the past tense of Wish is Wished. That’s how we pronounce the past tense of Want – Wanted. And wish – Wished. In the past, the participle is the same!

Righto, so….The most common phrase you will hear with these two words is something like: I wish to + do something and I want to + do something. Both I wish to and I want to – can mean the same thing.

For example:

I want to make a formal complaint, I wish to make a formal complaint. Me gustaría hacer una ceja formál. That’s in Spanish.

Another example, I am going to use a third person:

He wants to speak with the manager. He wishes to speak with the manager. Le gustaría hablar con el jefe.

Using Wish To instead of Want to is more formal, it’s mostly used in formal English, however, most of the time, with friends, when you are with friends, we would say I want to. Let’s consider the following example: I want to speak with your manager or I wish to speak with your manager.

I wish to speak with your manager is more formal and more polite to say. It will be a bit unusual to say – to use this phrase “I wish to speak with you” you know if you are with your friends, Oh I wish to speak with you Alicia. I wish to speak with you Carolina. It implies some kind of authority or Alicia or Carolina may be in trouble. I wish to speak with you, I am not happy about something.

Most of the time with friends, we would say: I want to speak with you or I would like to speak with you.

Cool, oki doki. So let’s continue.

We can use Wish together with a noun and to “offer good wishes”. Like for example, obviously.
I wish you a Merry Christmas.

I wish you all the best for your English exams. I wish you a Merry Christmas. The most commonly used phrase nowadays.

I should also mention that WISH is a countable noun, so in plural it becomes “wishes”. We can have many wishes.

Usually in fairy tales (cuentos de adas) there is either a genie in a bottle or some kind of a magical creature that can grant you a wish. To grant a wish is to make it true, to make your wish come true, to make the wish a reality. For example, a genie, if you are reading a fairy tale,a genie would normally say, I will grant you 3 wishes. State your 3 wishes, I will grant you 3 wishes.

Awesome! Easy peasy!

Now, listen up carefully amigos, the main use of the word Wish is to express a strong desire for something that is impossible or very unlikely to happen. Hypothetically speaking, people normally wish for their situation to be different from their current one, to be different from status quo, that’s what I mean. We use it when we talk about unreal and hypothetical things, when there is no hope just wishful thinking. I will explain later what wishful thinking is.

But let me first explain what I mean by using the word Wish to express a strong desire for something that is unlikely to happen.

I will give you an example, a couple of simple examples or more than a couple because I can’t count, obviously.

I am fat. I wish I was thin. Estoy un poco gordita. Desería estar delgada.
She is poor. She wishes she was a millionaire. Ella es pobre. Ella desería ser millonaria.
I ate too much food during Christmas holidays. I wish I hadn’t eaten so much. Me hubiese gustado no comer tanto.

As you can see from these examples, we use WISH to express regrets about the current situation, the situation in the present, however we often use it together with verbs in either the past tense or past perfect tense.

I was I was happier, I wish I was rich…

If you have been studying English for a while, you have probably learnt, you have probably learnt expressions I wish I was or I wish I were, or you must have heard them before. So, when constructing these hypothetical sentences, we can either use: I wish I was or I wish I were….was and were as you can see are in the past tense. But we start off the sentence in the present, I wish is in the present tense, I wish I was, I wish I were.

So that’s how we construct a sentence that helps us express a strong desire for something that is impossible or very unlikely to happen.

Also, an important thing to note is that in formal English we would use I wish I were… ok? For example, I wish I were rich. I wish it were Sunday today. I wish it weren’t raining today. He wishes he were taller.

It is common to hear native speakers say I wish I was taller or I wish I was skinnier. You will hear that version more often than I wish I were taller or I wish I were skinnier. The native speakers are not following the rules of grammar and it’s a more colloquial expression, if you will. So when speaking with native speakers, ‘I wish I was’ it’s quite acceptable.

I wish a was …taller… I wish a was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller, I wish I was a little bit taller. I think that’s how the song goes, if you are in the 90’s music, ‘90s rap music. The song is called, I wish I was a little bit taller….

Anyway, getting myself distracted. So that’s what you can use with your friends.

But if you have exams or if you want to speak more formally, please use I wish I were not I wish I was. When you are doing exams, they probably want you to be more formal when you are doing exams., so use the proper way…I wish I were…something.

Another way to use Wish is together with COULD and WOULD. These are modal verbs, but COULD is also past tense of the verb Can. Would is a modal verb of the future tense Will. I will give you a couple of examples when we would need to use these two verbs. But before I do, you can learn more about modal verbs in episodes #30 called May vs Might vs Could and episode #36 (How to ask questions politely). If you are new to the show, I suggest you go back and listen to those 2 episodes, number 30 and number 36.

So back to the examples of using Wish, could and would.

1. I wish I could speak French. Or I wish I could speak Portuguese. This just means that I wish that I could speak the language, but unfortunately I cannot. Currently, I am not able to speak either of these languages but I wish I could.
2. John wishes he could come to the party (it means he would like to come but he is not able to for whatever reason)

So that was using Wish together with COULD but using Would with Wish is a little bit special when it comes to using it in a sentence. We use it when we want other people to do something so that they can then change, most of the time we want that other person to change their behaviour. So that’s when we would combine Wish and Would in a sentence.

For example:
1. I wish that Marcelo wouldn’t eat all the chips. I know that Marcelo looooves to eat chips but I don’t like it when he eats all the chips. I want him to change his behaviour, I want him to change his habit.
2. I wish that you would stop making so much noise. I wish that you would stop making so much noise. I can’t hear myself think! Stop making so much noise.

We also use it when we talk about weather.
For example, I wish that it would stop raining today.

And there we go guys, easy peasy japanesy. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Hopefully you are not too confused, if it helps, I suggest you listen to this episode again. If you have any questions, please do send me a message.

Hey, before we finish today’s episode, I used a term earlier in this episode, a phrase called Wishful thinking…wishful thinking is hoping that something will happen, even though we are not certain that it will happen.
It’s like, let me think a bit…in Spanish it would be like.. es como creer que algo es verdad porque tu lo deseas intensamente. Y tu quieres que eso suceda.
Basically, for non Spanish speakers – when you wish for something to happen.

What I would like to do next week or sometime soon is compare two words, two verbs: to Hope and to Wish. Is there a difference between these two? I think there is….and also have you heard of the expression What if? But what if…something happened…I also want to teach you about that.

So that’s it amigos, wow we learnt so much today! Awesome! I hope you learnt a lot today. Just to let you know, transcription to this episode will be available soon, you can find it on my website www.englishmadesimple.net. Give it a couple of days, it is coming soon.

Before we finish, let me ask you this question, if you came across a genie in a bottle, and this genie promised to grant you 3 wishes, what would your 3 wishes be? What would you wish for? You have 3 wishes, what would they be? Think about that…

Guys, I wish you a prosperous and successful 2017! Dos mil diez y siette. But we will be in touch before the end of the year anyway, 2 more episodes before the end of the Year anyway.
Until next time, hasta la próxima! Ciao.

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