Idiomatic expression of ‘Wish’ – part 2( action based)

This part deals  with the present thinking of someone about a past situation.  Here one imagines wishfully of a past situation which didn’t take place as he thinks now. We use the past perfect tense after ‘Wish’ to imagine a non-fact to be an actual fact in the past.  We express our regret that something was not as we liked it to be. It can be viewed in three perspectives, viz (a) action based (b) state based (c) possession based.

structure : Past Perfect Tense after ‘Wish’.


  • I wish I could have sung like him. (i.e now I understand with some sense of loss that I was not able to sing like him.)
  • They wish they could have built a palatial house.( but they couldn’t)
  • I wish I could have run like P.T.Usha.( but I couldn’t)
  • She wishes she could have passed the exam with a first class. ( but she couldn’t)
  • He wishes he could have helped his poor neighbour. ( but the fact is that he couldn’t)
  • I wish I had known his phone number .( i.e I didn’t have his phone number)
  • I wish it had not been raining.( but it was raining then)
  • He wishes he hadn’t had to work on Sundays. ( but he had to…)
  • I feel sick.  I wish I hadn’t eaten so much cake.( i.e I regret I ate so much of cake)
  • I wish I had known that Ravi was sick.  I would have gone to see him.( but I didn’t know he was sick)

Note: All the above sentences refer to the present thinking of someone about their past unsuccessful wishes.

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