If only or I wish, use for desires, regrets or complaints.

There are 3 types of IF ONLY or I WISH sentences:

if only or I wish, the wish tree

1. Speaking about a desire:


  • To express a desire in the present or in the future.
    Example: If only I knew how to use a computer. (I don’t know how to use a computer but I would like to learn how to use one.)
  • When you use the subjunctive of the verb ‘to be’ (the mood of wanting what is not) and the form is “were”.
    Example: I wish I were twenty years old again. (I am already older, so I am talking about a present desire to re-live the past.)

    2. Talking about regret:

    Form: IF ONLY or I WISH + Past Perfect

    • To express sorrow or regret about a past action.
      Example: If only I had woken up early. (I didn’t wake up early and I missed my bus.)
      Example: I wish that I had remembered his birthday, then he would not be so sad.


    3. Complaining

    Form: IF ONLY or I WISH + Would + Verb

    • To complain about a behaviour that you would like to change if you could.
      Example: I wish you wouldn’t arrive so late all the time. (I’m annoyed because you always come late and I want you to be here on time.)

    Please click: Lesson B2.11, to simply buy this one lesson, without the rest of the course.


    Related Content:

    British Council – Wish and If only.
    Cambridge Dictionary – If only
    Exam English – Wish, if only


    Why not get a full course of English lessons in PDF eBook format?

    There are 12 lessons in each booklet, (every lesson has exercises with answers).

    Sign up for your 'How to teach English' Guide
    and claim your first eBook FREE!