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ESL Grammar Resources

Hope vs. Wish           



Wish is most commonly used in hypothetical (or imagined) situations: I wish that I had a dog. (I don't really have a dog, but if I did, I would be happy.) I wish (that) you were here. (Unfortunately, you're not, and I miss you.) Sometimes wish is used in greeting and expressions of goodwill:


We wish you a "Merry Christmas."

They wished him "Happy Birthday."

Wish me luck.




Hope can also be used in expressions of goodwill, but the grammar is slightly different:



I hope (that) you have a Merry Christmas.

I hope (that) you had a nice Birthday.

(some time in the future)

(some time in the past)


Hope can be used to specify a desired outcome. For future hopes, the possibilities remain open, but for past hopes, the outcome has usually been determined already.


I hope you can come to the party on Saturday.

I was hoping that you would come to the party.

I had hoped to see you at the party on Saturday.

I hope to get an A on the exam.

I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow.

He hopes to be elected President.

She hoped you wouldn't find her.

(future possibility)

(but you didn't make it)

(but I didn't)

(it is still possible)

(although it might)

(it could happen)

(but you probably did)



Wish and hope are also used in certain types of requests and pleasantries. In such situations, wish carries a more definite and formal tone.


I wish to see the doctor.

I hope to see you again.

(right now)

(anytime in the future)


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