Грамматика

If I knew / I wish I knew

Языковая конструкция I wish + глагол в прошедшем времени, означает желание изменить что-то в прошлом, что, естественно уже невозможно. Это использование глагола wish относится к настоящим или прошлым ситуациям, которые мы хотим изменить, но понимаем, что они не можем.
 

A. Study this example situation:

Sue wants to phone Paul but she can’t do this because she doesn’t know his number.

 

  • She says: If I knew his number, I would phone him.

 

Sue says: If I knew his number… . This tells us that she doesn’t know his number. She is imagining the situation. The real situation is that she doesn’t know his number.

 

When you imagine a situation like this, you use if + past (if I knew / if you were / if we didn’t etc.).

 

But the meaning is present, not past:

 

  • Tom would read more if he had more time. (but he doesn’t have much time)
  • If I didn’t want to go to the party, I wouldn’t go. (but I want to go)
  • We wouldn’t have any money if we didn’t work. (but we work)
  • If you were in my position, what would you do?
  • It’s a pity you can’t drive. It would be useful if you could.

 

B. We use the past in the same way after wish (I wish I knew /1 wish you were etc.).

We use wish to say that we regret something, that something is not as we would like it to be:

 

  • I wish I knew Paul’s phone number. (= I don’t know it and I regret this)
  • Do you ever wish you could fly? (you can’t fly)
  • It rains a lot here. I wish it didn’t rain so often.
  • It’s very crowded here. I wish there weren’t so many people, (but there are a lot of people)
  • I wish I didn’t have to work. (but I have to work)

 

C.  After if and wish, you can use were instead of was (if I were /I wish it were etc.).

So you can say:

 

  • If I were you, I wouldn’t buy that coat.     or     If I was you…
  • I’d go out if it weren’t raining.                  or     …if it wasn’t raining.
  • I wish it were possible.                            or     I wish it was possible.

 

D.  We do not normally use would in the if-part of the sentence or after wish:

  • If I were rich, I would have a yacht, (not ‘If  I would be rich’)
  • I wish I had something to read. (not ‘I wish I would have’)

 

Sometimes wish…would is possible (I wish you would listen’).

 

E. Note that could sometimes means ‘would be able to’ and sometimes ‘was/were able to’:

 

  • You could get a job more easily if you could speak a foreign language  (you could get = you would be able to get)   (you could speak = you were able to speak)

 

EXERCISES

1 Put the verb into the correct form.

 

  1. If I ...knew... his number, I would phone him. (know)
  2. I … wouldn’t buy. that coat if I were you. (not/buy)
  3. I…………………………………………… you if I could, but I’m afraid 1 can’t, (help)
  4. We would need a car if we …………………………………………… in the country, (live)
  5. If we had the choice, we …………………………………………… in the country, (live)
  6. This soup isn’t very good. It…………………………………………… better if it wasn’t so salty, (taste)
  7. I wouldn’t mind living in England if the weather …………………………………………… better, (be)
  8. If I were you, I…………………………………………. (not/wait).   I………………………………………… now. (go)
  9. You’re always tired. If you …………………………………………… to bed so late every night, you wouldn’t be tired all the time. (not/go)
  10. I think there are too many cars. If there ……………….. so many cars (not/be), there ……………………….. so much pollution, (not/be)

 

2 Write a sentence with If… for each situation.

 

  1. We don’t visit you very often because you live so far away. If you didn’t live so far away, we’d visit you more often.
  2. He doesn’t speak very clearly — that’s why people don’t understand him. If he ………………………….. more …………………………… people ……………………………………………………………..
  3. That book is too expensive, so I’m not going to buy it. If the book …………………………………………………
  4. We don’t go out very often because we can’t afford it……………………………………………………………..
  5. It’s raining, so we can’t have lunch in the garden………………………………………………………………..
  6. I have to work tomorrow evening, so I can’t meet you…………………………………………………………….

 

3 Write sentences beginning I wish… .

 

  1. I don’t know many people (and I’m lonely). I wish I knew more people
  2. I don’t have a key (and I need one).       I wish ……………………………………………………………………..
  3. Ann isn’t here (and I need to see her).    ………………………………………………………………………………..
  4. It’s cold (and I hate cold weather).    …………………………………………………………………………………….
  5. I live in a big city (and I don’t like it).    ………………………………………………………………………………..
  6. I can’t go to the party (and I’d like to).    ……………………………………………………………………………….
  7. I have to work tomorrow (but I’d like to stay in bed).   ……………………………………………………………..
  8. I don’t know anything about cars (and my car has just broken down)……………………………………………
  9. I’m not lying on a beautiful sunny beach (and that’s a pity)………………………………………………………..

 


4 Write your own sentences beginning I wish… .

 

  1. (somewhere you’d like to be now — on the beach, in New York, in bed etc.) I wish …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
  2. (something you’d like to have — a computer, a job, lots of money etc.)……………………………………………
  3. (something you’d like to be able to do — sing, speak a language, fly etc.)………………………………………..
  4. (something you’d like to be — beautiful, strong, rich etc.)……………………………………………………………..