Section of English Grammar

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I wish I had... (engVid)
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Have you ever made a mistake? Feel bad about something you did or didn't do? Learn two useful ways to express regret in English in personal, social, and professional situations. In this lesson you can learn how to use the positive and negative forms of "I wish I had..." and "If only I had...".

Hi. My name is Rebecca from In life, as much as we try, we don't always do the right thing, right? Sometimes, we do something, and wish afterwards that we hadn't done it. And sometimes, we don't do something and wish afterwards that we had done it. Well, in English we have some expressions to express these kinds of situation and these kinds of feelings that we have when we do and don't do something. All right? So this lesson is focused on that. So what we're basically talking about in this lesson is expressing regret. Regret is when we feel somewhat unhappy and uncomfortable with something that we did or didn't do. So let's get started.

So the expression you can use to talk about something that you didn't do that you wish you had done is, "I wish I had --." Now, you can use this expression to talk about personal situations or social situations or business situations. Okay? So you can use it in a professional context as well. So these are things that you wish you had done that you didn't do. And then on the other side, we'll come to the other part of the equation.

So for example, you could say, "I wish I had studied harder for my test." Or, "I wish I had bought the house last year when it was so much cheaper." Okay? So these are some examples in the personal realm. You could say, in a social situation, "I wish I had called her last week." "I wish I had gone to the concert." Okay? This means you didn't go to the concert, and you're saying you heard it was really good. "I wish I had gone to the concert." In a professional context you might say, "I wish I had quoted a better price." "I wish I had booked the meeting room earlier." Okay?

So here, you have some examples. Now, you do see another expression down here. Instead of saying, "I wish I had" plus whatever you need to say, you could also use the expression, "If only I had --." For example, "If only I had booked the conference room earlier." "If only I had quoted a better price." Okay? So you get the idea on this side.

Now, we come to this side. This is when you did something, and you shouldn't have done it, and you wish that you had not done it. So then, you could say, "I wish I hadn't eaten so much. I was really trying lose weight. I'm supposed to be on a diet. Why did I eat so much? I wish I hadn't eaten so much." Or, "I wish I hadn't waited until now to call her." Okay? Another example. "I wish I hadn't trusted him/her." I wish I hadn't invited them." Or in a profession situation, "I wish I hadn't agreed to their proposal." "I wish I hadn't paid the contractor already." Or, "I wish I hadn't paid the contractor in advance." Okay? And again, another way of expressing the same thing is to say, "If only I hadn't paid the contractor in advance, we could've found another contractor." "If only I hadn't agreed to their proposal, I could have considered your offer." Okay? So you see that you can use "I wish I had", "I wish I hadn't", or you can use "if only I had" or "if only I hadn't". Okay? And all of these are used to express regret for something you did or something you didn't do. And it happens to all of us, so now you know how to express it. Okay? So if you'd like to do a quiz on this subject, please go to our website, That way, you'll have a chance to really master what we've studied here. And also, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I'd be happy to see you again. Bye, for now.


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