Can anyone help me fill the gap in this sentence:

I wish I ... get up early every morning!

Is this:

  • A) didn't have to
  • B) must not
  • C) hadn't
  • D) wouldn't have to

I'm not native so I have no idea to solve this problem. I already have tried by translate to my native language so I think this is B. But that's all I can do. I'm waiting for rigorous explanation.

  • 2
    A) didn't have to - The reality is that I have to get up early every morning, so Simple Present changes to wish + Simple Past. May 19, 2016 at 10:03
  • You don't really need to be a native speaker; all you need is just a good grammar book in this kind of test. (Note that passing these tests and using English in real life are not the same thing.) -- See my old answer: ell.stackexchange.com/a/18065/3281 for information from Practical English Usage by Michael Swan, entry 630. May 19, 2016 at 10:28
  • Translating a sentence to your own language is risky with sentences that contain negatives, because they may work differently in English and in your own language. If you want a rigorous explanation, consult a grammar book or look online, for example at the British Council web site... learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/quick-grammar/…
    – JavaLatte
    May 19, 2016 at 11:04

1 Answer 1


A) is the correct answer.

Here are the explanations from a site that I found which seems to explain English grammar in a way that is easy for us, non-native English speakers, to understand (http://www.perfect-english-grammar.com/wish.html).

Wish + (that) + past simple:

We can use 'wish' to talk about something that we would like to be different in the present or the future. It's used for things which are impossible or very unlikely.

• I wish that I had a big house (I don't have a big house, but it's a nice idea!).

• I wish that we didn't need to work today (we do need to work today, unfortunately).

• I wish that you lived close by (you don't live close by).

• I wish that John wasn't busy tomorrow* (he is busy, unfortunately).

(*In formal writing, you will see 'were' instead of 'was' after wish. This is correct, but it's also fine to use 'was', in the same way as with the second conditional. 'I wish I were rich' or 'I wish I was rich'.) We also use 'wish' with 'could' to talk about things in the present or future that we would like to be different. In this situation, 'could' is the past simple of 'can'.

Of course, we use 'can' to talk about ability - if we know how to do something or not. For example,

  • 'I can speak Spanish' or 'I can't drive'.

We also use 'can' to talk about possibility - if things are possible or not possible. For example,

  • 'we can't come to the party tonight' or 'John can help you clean up'.

We use 'could' with 'wish' to talk about ability and to talk about possibility.

  • I wish that I could speak Spanish (but, unfortunately, I can't speak Spanish).
  • I wish that I could drive (I can't drive).
  • I wish that we could go to the party tonight (unfortunately, we're busy so we can't go).
  • I wish that John could help you clean up (John is at work, so he can't help).

Hope this helps:)

The following explanations and example sentences are cited from this site (http://www.englishgrammarsecrets.com/wish/menu.php).

In the case of 'will' , where 'will' means 'show willingness' we use 'would'.

• He won't help me. I wish he would help me. (The person's wish is for him to be willing to help him/her.)

• You're making too much noise. I wish you would be quiet. (The person's wish is for you to be willing to be quiet.)

• You keep interrupting me. I wish you wouldn't do that. (The person's wish is for you not to be willing to interrupt him/her.)

The above were from the above site, and after considering these example sentences and explanations and a source which I found in my native language, what I personally think I understood is that "would" in the form of "wish + would" represents "one's will at present."

In the case of "I wish he would do...," the reality behind it is "he will not do...". If the sentence was "I wish I wouldn't wake up early every morning.", it would mean the person is wishing for himself/herself being unwilling to wake up early every morning. It would be strange to wish/not wish for one's own willingness or unwillingness. When a sentence takes a form of "I wish I wouldn't have to + past perfect", the source in my native language said that it cannot even express the will and does not make sense.

  • I gave this a +1 for being correct, but it would help if you could explain why "I wish I wouldn't have to wake up early" is wrong. This is hard to explain, though!
    – Ben Kovitz
    May 20, 2016 at 7:50
  • I'll try... :-|
    – Mikiko
    May 20, 2016 at 8:00
  • Reading the link in Khan's comment on his answer made me afraid to try answering this myself. :)
    – Ben Kovitz
    May 20, 2016 at 8:09
  • Will you check what I added to my answer and tell me if it makes sense to you? I'm not confident in it... :(
    – Mikiko
    May 20, 2016 at 8:50
  • It's an interesting theory: "would" is about willingness, and it doesn't make sense to make a wish about your willingness. I don't think it's quite right, for two reasons. (1) "I wish that I would have the will to get out of bed early tomorrow" seems like a reasonable thought, especially for a habitual late sleeper. (2) "Would" is often applied to matters other than willingness. (I once wrote a rambling answer about this here, and see rogermue's answer here.) But yours is the best theory I have heard yet!
    – Ben Kovitz
    May 20, 2016 at 9:10

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .