The verbs HOPE and WISH both mean to want something BUT how we use them is a little different. Even for non-native speakers, these two words can be easy to confuse! I wrote this post as a guide to help people use these verbs correctly.
HOPE to want things to happen that are possible.
“I HOPE it doesn’t rain tomorrow.”We use the verb WISH when we want things that to happen that are unlikely or impossible.
“I WISH it never rained on the weekends.”
Learn the difference between these words with clear definitions and lots of natural examples.
HOPE vs WISH
|The verbs HOPE and WISH|
|VERB hope – to want something to happen and think that it is possible|
|・“We are hoping for good weather on Sunday.”|
|VERB wish – to want something to happen or to be true even though it is unlikely or impossible|
|・“I wish I were taller.”|
|The nouns HOPE and WISH|
|NOUN hope – a feeling of wanting and expecting a particular thing to happen|
|・“Things are hard now but don’t lose hope, it will get better soon.”|
|NOUN wish – an attempt to make something happen by thinking hard about it|
|・“Blow out the candles and make a wish.”|
*The vocabulary definitions used in this post are from www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com
HOPE – Verb Meaning with example sentences
hope verb – to want something to happen and think that it is possible
“We are hoping for good weather on Sunday.”
We can understand this sentence as: It’s possible to have good weather on Sunday and that is what we want.
We can hope for something (a noun)
“We are hoping for good weather on Sunday.”
“Everyone in my class hopes for an easy final exam.”
The verb hope can be used by itself.
“All we can do now is wait and hope.”A positive outcome or result is possible and it’s what we want.
“The exam went better than I hoped.”I wanted to do well on my exam, I did even better than I thought I would.
We can also use the verb hope with the adverbs SO and NOT as a positive or negative reply.
A: “Do you think it will rain tonight?”
B: “I hope NOT, but I brought an umbrella just in case.”
I don’t want it to rain but I brought an umbrella because rain is possible.
Learn to correctly use the English expression – JUST in CASE at my blog post. Click the link!
A: “Do you think we’ll have good weather tomorrow?”
B: “I hope SO.”
I want the weather to be nice tomorrow. Nice weather is possible.
Another example with “I HOPE SO.”
A: “Will you be back before dark?”
B: “I hope SO.”
Returning before it gets dark is possible and I would like to do that.
We can also say:
- I hope to be back before dark
- I hope I can get home before dark.
WISH – Verb Meaning with example sentences
wish verb – to want something to happen or to be true even though it is unlikely or impossible
We can wish (that)…
“I wish I were taller.” (I wish that I were taller.)
The verb wish means to want something to happen or to be true even though it is unlikely or impossible – in this sentence, we can imagine the person talking is an adult so they have stopped growing. It’s not possible to become taller.
“I wish I hadn’t eaten so much.”
In this example wish + not done something shows regret. We regret a past action. It’s impossible to go back in time and not do an action.
“I wish I didn’t waste so much money when I was younger.”
*Use the expressions ME TOO and ME NEITHER correctly >> ME TOO or ME NEITHER? (Learn fast w/Video)
We can show regret by wishing we DID do something in the past that we didn’t do.
- I wish I saved more of my money when I was younger.
- I heard Jennifer came to the party on Saturday. I wish I went, I could have talked to her.
More WISH examples
A: “Where is Jim now?’”
B: “I only wish I knew!”
I want to know where Jim is but I don’t.
“I wish you wouldn’t leave your clothes all over the floor.”
In this example, we can imagine a mother talking to her son. It’s unlikely that he will change his habit of being messy, even though she wants him to.
I wish (that) you’d clean up your room!
you’d = you would
Learn MORE confusing English vocabulary at my blog post here > Good At or Good In (or Good With?) Your complete guide
Video – Below is a video I made from this original post years ago. It’s good for a minute of English listening.
I wish it was better quality.
I hope the English listening will be helpful for you.
HOPE – Noun Meaning with example sentences
Hope noun – a feeling of wanting and expecting a particular thing to happen; something that you wish for
- Things are hard now but don’t lose hope, it will get better soon.
- She and I were very close, she knows all my hopes and dreams.
- Calvin is depressed and has completely given up hope.
Check out Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries for more examples and uses of the noun HOPE.
WISH – Noun Meaning with example sentences
Wish noun – an attempt to make something happen by thinking hard about it, especially in stories when it often happens by magic
- Blow out the candles and make a wish.
- The genie granted Alladin three wishes.
OR a desire or a feeling that you want to do something or have something
- Her dying wish was that her fortune should be split equally among her children.
- I hope we can resolve this peacefully, I have no wish to fight with you.
Check out Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries for more examples and uses of the noun WISH.
Idioms with WISH
Idioms with WISH (verb)
You wish! (informal) used to say that something is impossible or very unlikely, although someone wishes it were possible
Mark: I’m gonna marry a rich and beautiful actress one day.
Spencer: YEAH! You wish!
Spencer thinks Mark’s plan is impossible or very unlikely.
Other subjects are also possible.
Alex: Mark says he’s gonna marry a rich and beautiful actress one day.
Spencer: He wishes!
Riley: The boss is going to promote someone to division manager. Maybe you’ll get the job.
Jill: I wish!
Jill doesn’t think that she has a chance to get promoted.
Idioms with WISH (noun)
Your wish is my command (fun and playful) used to say that you are ready to do whatever somebody asks you to do
A: Could you buy some yogurt on your way home from work?
B: Your wish is my command.
People often have a wish list – a list of things all the things that you would like to have, or that you would like to happen
Samsung has just announced a new wall-sized micro-LED TV. That’s going on the wish list.
|Do you wish you could sound like a native speaker? Use more IDIOMS! This awesome post is a great place to start – 10 Idioms with PIG (Learn FAST with pictures and examples)|
This post is one of my biggest! Idiom$ About MONEY (120 Common English Financial Idioms)
Idioms with HOPE
Idioms with HOPE (verb)
cross my heart (and hope to die) (informal) used to emphasize that you are telling the truth or will do what you promise
The feeling is that I will die if I’m not telling the truth.
I didn’t eat your cookie. Cross my heart and hope to die.
When I was young, we used to say “Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” It sounds terrible now that I’m older!
Idioms with HOPE (noun)
pin (all) your hopes on somebody/something – to rely on somebody/something completely for success or help
Don’t pin all your hopes on just one idea. You need some backup plans in case your first idea doesn’t work out.
Songs with WISH
This is a popular Disney song that you may have heard before. It’s from Pinocchio.
When you wish upon a star
This is a fun rap song from 1995 that I like. It’s called…
*NOTE – The song’s lyrics “I wish I was a little bit taller…” are actually incorrect grammar. The correct grammar is “I wish I WERE a little bit taller…” (This grammar rule is sometimes overlooked, even by native speakers so don’t worry too much.)
This is called subjective verb tense. Confused? Me too! Here is a guide from the Grammarly blog.
For sentences that are not real, we use the subjective verb tense. (The sentence “I wish I were taller” isn’t real. I couldn’t really be taller) If a sentence uses the word WISH it will use the subjective verb tense:
I wish I were, I wish it were, he wishes he were, she wishes she were.
Do you like these songs? Do you HOPE or WISH for anything? Please tell me in the comments below.
Answer more of your confusing English grammar questions at the links below.