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Student Information

ENGLISH LANGUAGE TIPS

Hypothetical Situations and Wishes

By Mags Wisniewska, Teacher at St Giles Brighton

Remember! We can imagine past, present and future situations....

The verb tense in the sentence will depend on which one you are referring to.

1) Hypothetical past and present- go back ONE TENSE

(Past Simple for present situations and Past Perfect for past situations)

  • I wish (+subject pronoun) ...... 

(Can refer to past and present situations)

I wish I didn’t have to study today. (Means: I have to study today.)

I wish I had taken my umbrella yesterday. (Means: I didn’t take my umbrella yesterday.)

  • If only .....

(Can refer to past and present situations)

If only I didn’t have to study today. (Means: I have to study today.)

If only I had taken my umbrella yesterday. (Means: I didn’t take my umbrella yesterday.)

  • It’s (about/high) time ......

(Refers to present situations which should be happening, but are not)

It’s time you cleaned your room.

(means: You haven’t cleaned your room and you should do it)

  • I’d rather (+ subject pronoun) .....

(when talking about preferring one thing to another)

I would rather we didn’t go there. 

(BUT note that there are other structures which are not discussed in this document and can follow ‘I’d rather...’)

2) To talk about situations that are NOT likely to happen in the future use PAST SIMPLE with:

  • What if .....

What if I got the job? (Means: I am probably not going to get it)

  • Suppose .....

They didn’t take a map! Suppose they got lost. (Means: they might get lost)

3)  To talk about situations that are likely to happen in the future use

PRESENT SIMPLE with:

  • What if .....

What if I get the job? (Means: I might get the job)

  • In case .......

Take an umbrella in case it rains. (Means: It might rain)

  • Suppose .....

Suppose she visits us next week. (Means: She might visit us)

4) To talk about situations that are likely to happen in the future use  WOULD/COULD with ‘I wish ...’

  •  I wish (+ subject pronoun) + would/could......

(‘would’ can also express annoyance)

I wish you wouldn’t be so loud! (Means: You are loud and I do not like it)

I wish I could find a better job. (Means: I might find a better job in the future)