- Wish and if only + past simple/would
We use wish + past simple to talk about present situations when we are unhappy with the situation:
I wish we were still on holiday. (We aren’t on holiday now.)
We wish we didn’t live so far away. (We live too far away to see our friends.)
I wish we had a new car. (Our car keeps breaking down.)
If only means the same but it can have a little more emphasis:
If only I didn’t get angry so easily! (= I get angry easily, but I don’t like it.)
Note: We don’t use wish and if only with a present tense:
I wish I have a better job. I wish I had a better job.
To express a wish about the future, we use hope + present tense verb, not wish:
I wish you have a good holiday. I hope you have a good holiday.
We can use wish/if only + would (not) to talk about a habit in someone else that we would like to change:
If only Jenny would talk about her problems.
I wish you wouldn’t bite your nails!
Wish and if only + past perfect
We use wish/if only + past perfect to talk about a past situation or action that we regret:
I’ve failed my exams. I wish I’d studied harder.
If only I hadn’t left my jewelry here. I left it in the drawer and it’s been stolen.
I’m really tired. I wish I’d gone to bed earlier.
Note: We don’t use wish/if only with the past simple if we want to talk about the past:
If only I didn’t shout at my boss last week. If only I hadn’t shouted at my boss last week.
- It’s time and would rather
We use the past tense after it’s time and would rather when we are talking about the present.
- It’s (about) time means we think that someone should do something:
Come on – it’s time we went home.
It’s about time you got on the plane.
- It’s high time + a past simple verb is stronger and suggests that he action is urgent:
It’s high time you started looking for a flat of your own! You can’t stay here forever.
- We can also use the infinitive with to (with or without for + object pronoun):
Come on – it’s time (for us) to go home.
It’s about time (for you) to get on the plane.
We use would rather to say what we prefer:
I’d rather we stayed at home. (= I’d prefer to stay…)
We’d rather we didn’t go by plane. (= We’d prefer not to go…)
Would you rather I paid you now or later? (= Would you prefer me to pay you now or later?)