How to Use the Subjunctive Mood: Wish

What is a subjunctive verb? It indicates the imagined action. The subjunctive mood is the verb form used to express a wish, a suggestion, a command, a proposal, or a condition opposite to fact. This mood describes a state which is doubtful or not factual. Today, we will talk about how to express a wish.

Rules when using “wish.”

1) Always use ‘were,’ never use ‘was.’ 

The reason is ‘just because,’ which means that it is just the way it’s used in English. So, whether it’s I, she, he, it, they, or we—all of these will use “were.”


  • I wish I were taller.
  • She wishes her hair were shorter.
  • He wishes he were richer than he is today.

2) Use would or could when using ‘wish’ with action verbs.

Here are the examples of Action Verbs: like come out, run, sleep, eat, swim, etc.


  • I wish the sun would come out.

3) Wish is hypothetical and imaginary. 

When you use with, it indicates something that isn’t true and can’t be right.

How to construct a “wish” sentence? 

This is how it looks like:

Subject + wish + one tense back

If the real situation is a present tense verb, use a simple past verb when you’re talking about a wish.

If simple past –> use perfect past tense when talking about a wish.


I am not tall. (am = present)


I wish I were tall. (were = past)



I didn’t join the karate club last month. (didn’t join = simple past tense)


I wish I had joined the karate club. (had joined = past perfect tense)



It will be hot today.


I wish it would rain today.


Take note though you may hear many native English speakers say,

  • “I wish I was rich.”
  • “I wish I was taller.”

But it isn’t grammatically correct. To use subjunctive correctly is especially helpful when you take IELTS, TOEIC, or any English evaluation tests.


Here are more examples:

  • I hate winters here in Russia. I wish I were in Hawaii right now.
  • I wish my boyfriend were more romantic.
  • I wish learning the Japanese language were easier.
  • I wish springtime lasted longer.
  • I wish I could come to your wedding.

I have a passion for the English language because it is such a powerful tool for creativity and personal development. I've been writing articles since I was in High School. I represented my school in English writing competitions in the city, regional, and national levels. When I was in college, I wrote a short story which was published in the University Literary Portfolio. In 2006, I worked as a call center agent in Cebu City. In 2007 up to 2008, I worked as an English accent trainer in a startup call center company. I have also been offering ESL lessons as a freelance tutor since February 2016.