Imagined, wished for or unlikely situations are used a lot in English. Take a look at the Imagined Time explanation below and test yourself with the final quiz at the bottom of the page.
When we want to speak about imagined situations or times, we often move the verb form backwards. The tense change gives the feeling of a distance from the real situation.
If only and wish
Wish/if only + a past form is used when we want to talk about a situation now that we would like to change
I wish I studied more when I was younger.
If only people took more care of the environment.
You can use would alongside wish, to show announce.
I wish he would work a little harder.
Wish/if only + a past perfect form is used if we want to talk about a situation we want to change in the past.
I wish had spoken with him while he was there.
If only they’d ran a little more in training.
We use I hope to talk about things we want to happen in the future.
I hope win on the weekend
It's (high) time
It’s (high) time + subject + past verb form is a phrase we can use to talk about something we should have changed a long time ago and will make that change now.
It’s high time I started doing some exercise.
It’s time he worked on his CV.
As if/as though
Using as if and as though is used when we want to talk about how similar a situation is to another.
The children are acting as if there are no adults here.
It was as though the driver didn’t see me.
We use Would rather when we want to talk about a situation we prefer.
I would rather eat a small lunch and have a big dinner.
I’d rather you didn’t feed the cat too much.