Unit 10.2

Conditional with Wish and If only


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Introduction

A conditional sentence is usually composed by two parts: the if-clause (or conditional clause) that expresses the condition, and the main clause that expresses the consequence of that condition.

We have different structures for conditionals.

If only and wish are used to show our regrets or wishes in the past and the present and also wishes about the future.

Form

We use wish and if only to express our wishes and regrets. They have these structures:

  1. past: wishes/regrets: If only/Wish + past conditional + …
  2. present: wishes/regrets: If only/Wish + past subjunctive + …
  3. future: wishes/regrets: If only/Wish + present conditional + …

Example

  1. ABC. / I wish you would have a serious character.
  2. If only he had had some responsibility and punctuality. / ABC.
  3. ABC. / I wish Laura could recover her strength again.

Use

We use if only and wish when we would like things to be different.

It has a relation with conditional sentences, but the usage of these conditionals differs.

We use:

  1. past wishes/regif only/wishrets: to show our regrets and wishes in the past;
  2. present wishes/regrets: to show our regrets and wishes in the present;
  3. future wishes/regrets: to show our wishes that may occur in the future.

Summary

If only and wish are used to show our regrets or wishes in the past and the present and also wishes about future.

We use them when we would like things to be different: with past conditionals, to show our regrets and wishes in the past; with past subjunctives, to show our regrets and wishes in the present; with present conditionals, to show our wishes that may occur in the future.

They have the following structures:

  1. in the past form: if only/wish followed by past conditional;
  2. in the present form: if only/wish followed by past subjunctive;
  3. in the future form:  followed by present conditional.

For example:
— If only she had listened to me, she wouldn’t have done that mistake.” = We show regret about a past action.
— If only he were more polite!” = We express a wish about a present situation.
— I wish I could travel the whole world one day.” = We express a wish about the future.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

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