Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Close your eyes, and make a wish.

If a genie granted Vanessa & Gina a wish each, Vanessa would wish she already
had her Bachelor's degree so she could move on to medical school, and Gina would
wish she had a nice, cozy house in the country, near a lake & with horses on the property.

If you rubbed an oil lamp and a genie came out and granted you three wishes, would you know what to wish for? More importantly, would you know how to say them in English? :-) If not, read on and learn how to do it right. The genie might be a stickler for grammar and not grant your wish if you don't say it correctly. We wouldn't want that to happen. :-)

  • A STICKLER for - insistent; demanding; strict about something 

an oil lamp
When we make a wish, we are basically expressing a desire for something that doesn't exist. For example, someone who doesn't have a job might say, I wish I HAD a job. If a person is tired, but he needs to do some work, he might say, "I wish I DIDN'T FEEL tired," or "I wish I WERE wide awake, so I can get some work done."

You probably noticed two things in the wishes above. First, when we wish for something in the present, we use the past tense of the verb. Second, when we use the verb to be, we use "were" regardless of the subject. Yes, it's like the second conditional since you are expressing something that is not true in the present. Here are more examples.

  1. I wish I HAD a boat. (Fact: I don't have a boat.)
  2. He wishes he WERE the mayor. (Fact: He's not the mayor.)
  3. She wishes she WEREN'T allergic to chocolate. (Fact: She's allergic to chocolate.)
  4. They wish they DIDN'T HAVE to work tomorrow. (Fact: They have to work tomorrow.)
  5. Taylor sometimes wishes she HAD more energy. (Fact: She sometimes runs out of energy.)
  6. Alexandra wishes she HAD her own clothing business. (Fact: She doesn't have her own business yet.)
  7. Mika, who teaches yoga in Japan, wishes she COULD teach yoga in English now. (Fact: She can't teach yoga in English yet. However, she's working hard every day to improve her English, so we're sure she'll be able to do so soon.)

Taylor sometimes wishes she HAD more energy. 
Alex wishes she HAD her own house
 and her own clothing business now.
Mika wishes she COULD speak fluent
English & teach yoga in English now.

Be careful not to confuse WISHING with HOPING. When we want something to happen (or not happen) in the future, you use HOPE.

  • I hope it doesn't rain this weekend.
  • She hopes she will speak English better in the future.

Remember that WISHING means expressing something that doesn't exist or is not true. Of course, we can also wish for something in the future. This is tricky because we have to differentiate it from HOPING. Moreover, we can also wish about the past, which usually happens when we regret about something that already happened. We will cover WISHING about the future and the past in a future blog lesson. 

So, if a genie granted you three wishes, what would you wish for? Share your wishes here, on NYLC's page on Facebook, or our page on Twitter using #ilovenylc. Happy wishing! :-)

-- Joe Yu, ESL instructor

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