Wishing correctly.

Check out today’s Teatime Titbit: Speak like a native: Wishing correctly.

It’s that time of year again, when the wish lists come out for Santa to get busy and bring us (especially the kiddy winkies=kids) bags full of presents (somehow down the chimney) on Xmas morning 25.12. (British Xmas).

Ever got a postcard from some beautiful, hot and sunny holiday place with that scribbled message “Wish you were here!”? After turning from red with rage through to green with envy, did it ever cross your mind to ask why ‘were’ and not ‘are’? If you did, here’s the answer you were always looking for.

“Wish you were here” means the writer regrets that you are not there and would like you to be there. Notice after the ‘wish’, we use the past form of the verb, but the meaning is present.

Similarly, if you regret something in the past, you use the ‘wish’ and then ‘had + past participle form’ e.g. “I wish he had told me about it.”

It’s also useful if you want to complain about something by using the construction ‘wish somebody would + inf’ e.g. “I wish somebody would answer that damn phone” (It’s been ringing for ages) or maybe about what people do repeatedly: “I wish Dave wouldn’t keep rabbiting on about football”.

Which brings us full circle because you can also use “I wish ….. + would +infinitive” for actions and changes you would like to happen “I wish Santa would bring me a Ferrari this Xmas”. Wishful thinking for sure – it’ll most probably be a Matchbox Ferrari.

QOTD. What’s on your Xmas wish list this Xmas? – please keep it clean!


to scribble sth (etw kritzeln), rage (Wut), envy (Neid), to cross one’s mind (in die Sinn kommen), to regret (badauern), to rabbit on (quasseln), wishful thinking (Wunschdenken)

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