Easily Confused: WISH Vs HOPE

Hope and wish have very similar meanings. We use both to express our desire for something. Here’s the difference:

To hope‘ is used to express desire for something that is possible or likely to happen.

  1. “I hope it will stop raining soon.”
  2. “I hope you’ll visit me when you come to Boston.”
  3. “I hope Nadeem gets the job.”

When hope is used in the past tense, it usually means that the thing hoped for didn’t happen:

  1. “I hoped Fatima would have finished by now.” (she hasn’t)
  2. “I hoped you wouldn’t find out about the surprise.” (but you probably have)

To wish‘ is often used to express desire for something that is impossible or unlikely, something imagined:

  1. “I wish we were rich.”
  2. “I wish unicorns were real!”

*Note that we use the past simple here even though we are talking about the present.

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It can also be used to express regret for something that has already happened.

  1. “I wish Fatima had finished her project.”
  2. “I wish you hadn’t found out about the surprise.”

*Here we use the past perfect tense.

Wish‘ paired with an infinitive expresses a desire to do something:

  1. “It’s getting cooler out, I wish to go inside now.”


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