Unit 36. If and wish sentences (past)
Study this example situation:
If I had seen you when you passed me in the street, I would have said hello. (but I didn’t see you)
I would have gone out if I hadn’t been so tired, (but I was too tired)
If he had been looking where he was going, he wouldn’t have walked into the wall, (but he wasn’t looking)
Last month Ann was sick. Tom didn’t know this, and he didn’t go to see her. They met again after Ann got better. Tom said:
If I had known that you were sick, I would have gone to see you.
The real situation was that Tom didn’t know Ann was sick. So he says If I had known… When you are talking about the past, you use the past perfect (I had done /I had been /I had known, etc.) after if.
Do not use would (have) in the if part of the sentence:
If I had seen you, I would have said hello, (not if I would have seen) Both would and had can be shortened to ‘d:
If I’d seen (= had seen) you, I’d have said (= would have said) hello.
I wish I had known that Ann was sick. I would have gone to see her. (I didn’t know that she was sick.)
I feel sick. I wish I hadn’t eaten so much. (I ate too much.)
Do you wish you had studied science instead of languages? (You didn’t study science.)
The weather was terrible. I wish it had been warmer. (It wasn’t warm.) You cannot use would have after wish:
I wish it had been warmer, (not would have been)
Use the past perfect (I had done) after wish when you say that you regret something that happened or didn’t happen in the past:
If I had gone to the party last night, I would be tired now. (I am not tired now – present.)
If I had gone to the party last night, I would have seen Ann. (I didn’t see Ann – past.)
Would have (done) is the past form of would (do):
Might have and could have are possible instead of would have:
If we’d played better, we might have won. (= perhaps we would have won)
We could have gone out if the weather hadn’t been so bad. (= we would have been able to go out)
For if sentences and wish see also Units 34, 35, and 37.