While taking an online test, I came across this question that confused me for a while.

I ______ it doesn't rain tomorrow, I'm going for a picnic.

A. wait
B. expect
C. hope
D. wish

I clicked hope but unfortunately, the site gives the result and not the answer.

Question: Whilst it is beyond doubt that neither A nor B is correct and C looks perfect, D does not look totally wrong.

Is wish possible there? In any circumstances? Do we wish something negative? And yes, did I click on the correct option?


In this case, wish is semantically but not grammatically correct. Hope is the correct answer.

You can absolutely wish that something wouldn't happen in the future. This conveys a meaning very similar to hope, but suggests that you think the desired negative circumstance (e.g. not raining) is rather unlikely.

In the example, wish is not correct, because I wish it doesn't rain is ungrammatical. You should use wouldn't with wish when talking about future circumstances. Couldn't also works, if you're wishing for a denial of any capability, but that doesn't make much sense when talking about weather.

Here's an example of a common usage of wishing for something negative:

I wish you wouldn't do that.

This is said to someone exhibiting some habitual and unpleasant behavior as a polite way of asking them to stop doing it, both now and in the future.

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  • never thought it that way. Maybe, non-native's limitations ;) +1 – Maulik V Jul 17 '14 at 6:19
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    But "I wish it wouldn't rain tomorrow" has an interesting semantic twist: I can only say that if I am fairly sure that it will rain tomorrow. I am wishing that it would be different. The original sentence has no such prescient quality at all. – oerkelens Jul 17 '14 at 7:31
  • Is their a particular reason that hope/doesn't go together and wish/wouldn't do? I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow, I wish it wouldn't rain tomorrow. I feel it may have something to do with @oerkelens point, hope sounds like you have no clue about the chances, but wish sounds like you think the opposite is goign to happen. – TMH Jul 17 '14 at 13:01
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    @Tom Good question; it is related to oerkelens' remark. A wish is necessarily hypothetical, so it requires an irrealis verb like would or could. Did is realis and it doesn't make sense to wish for something that's materialized already. – Esoteric Screen Name Jul 17 '14 at 15:54

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