Let us suppose we want to say that we want to resume practicing a language before we forget it absolutely. So we will say:

I wish I would resume ... before ...

And what after before? Can we use the same pattern here - that is present conditional?

Also I am curious what conditional should be used if the sentence starts with I wish I resumed and I wish I had resumed, that is hypothetical situation (when we cannot resume) and when we regret we did not resume in the past (and now it is too late)

  • 1
    It's preferable to say: "I wish I could resume my studies" to express a form of regret in the present. If on the other hand you want to express regret in the past then: "I wish I had resumed my studies". I know this doesn't answer your question, but you really should write the example sentence in full.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 4, 2015 at 7:31
  • Just to be clear: Do we mean that we hope you will resume in the future, or do we regret that we failed to resume in the past and now we have forgotten it absolutely? Apr 4, 2015 at 7:31
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    "I hope I will resume. . ." (future) and "I hope I can resume . . ." (present) are both fine. "to hope" and "to wish" are used differently. Italian learners also mix the two up. I see nothing wrong with "I wish I could resume . . . " to express a strong desire in the present.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 4, 2015 at 7:41
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    I recommend a simple online search. The first several results you get should pretty clearly explain what are commonly taught as the four kinds of conditionals. For example, see perfect-english-grammar.com/conditionals.html . If you have more questions after that, please edit this one or create a new one. Please see the help section on this page for more information on appropriate or "good" questions. Flagging to close for want of research. Apr 4, 2015 at 7:42
  • 2
    The grammar of wishing is complex enough, and there are differences between BrE and AmE usage. As a British English speaker, for example, I doubt I would ever say I wish I would/n't ..., e.g. "I wish I wouldn't spend so much time on ELU." Neither can I conceive of a context in which "I wish I resumed ..." is possible. I suggest editing your post to ask a single question. You might also want to consult a recommended pedagogic grammar such as Swan's Practical English Usage, which has a good coverage of this topic.
    – Shoe
    Apr 4, 2015 at 8:53

1 Answer 1


You should not characterize any of these as “present conditional”, whatever that means.

The verb wish is somewhat special in English in that it typically takes a subordinate clause explicitly marked for counterfactuality. Contrast these subordinate clauses governed by wish in the present tense:

  • I wish he were here.
  • I wish he would leave.
  • I wish I could help you.

With these where the clause is governed by hope and so have no counterfactuality marked:

  • I hope he is here.
  • I hope he leaves.
  • I hope I can help you.

This is the same as with know, whose clause is similarly unmarked:

  • I know he is here.
  • I know he is leaving.
  • I know I can help you.

Instead, wish works more like these using if only, which are again explicitly marked for counterfactuality:

  • If only he were here!
  • If only he would leave!
  • If only I could help you!

There are fancy grammatical terms for all these, but using them in English just confuses matters. These is nothing “conditional” involved here.

If you are wishing for something to have been different in the past, you would have to use a past perfect to put it further in the past:

I wish he had called before he showed up here.

The use of would in phrases like this is related to volition, not to futurity.

I wish he would have called before he showed up here.

Using the simple past would be an habitual action:

I wish he called before showing up here.

Please see this answer for more.

  • I had better paraphrase my question. Can subordinate clause following wish contain time expression? Can I say: I wish it happened before something else occurs ?
    – olegst
    Apr 6, 2015 at 6:44

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