If I + Past / I wish I + Past

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Welcome to your If I + past / I wish I + past lesson! In this topic we talk about:
• If I + past
I wish I + past
If I were / If I was
Using “Would”
Using “Could”.
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If I + past

Cobie wants to text Marcus, but she can’t because she doesn’t have his number. So she says:

“If I knew his number I would text him.”

She said If I knew his number… this indicates that she does not have his number. She is imagining what she would do if she had his number.

When you imagine situations like this, you use “If + past, would”:

“I would exercise more if I had the time.”

“She would get a promotion if she worked harder.”

“You’d pass the test if you studied more.”

“What would you do if you were in my situation?”

I wish I + past

We sometimes use the Past Simple after “I wish…”. We use this to say that we regret something, or we want something to be different. Have a look at these examples:

I wish I knew her number.
(I don’t have his number)

I wish she had a better car.
(She doesn’t have one)

I wish I knew how to cook.
(I don’t know how)

If I were / If I was

After “I wish I…” you can use “were” to replace “was”. The meaning doesn’t change:

I wish I were rich.” or I wish I was rich.

I wish it were sunny. or I wish it was sunny.

I wish Brian were here. or I wish Brian was here.

Using “Would”

We can’t use would in the if clause:

If I were rich, I would live near the beach.
(not “If I would be rich…“)

I would go out if it wasn’t so hot.
(not “…if it wouldn’t be so hot.“)

Using “Could”

Could sometimes means “would be able to” and sometimes it means “was able to”:

You could get a better job…
(could = would be able to)

… if you could speak English.
(could = were able to)