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Wish or Hope

Throughout my years teaching English, I've often heard my ESL students mistakenly use hope instead of wish - or vice versa. It's really not too difficult if you learn the distinction properly. Basically, when you say wish you want something to change, but it probably won't change. When you say hope, the change is possible. See? It's really not that difficult!


An easy way to remember is to think about the President of the United States, Barack Obama. Barack Obama built his political campaign around the idea of hope in 2008. He believed that change was possible. Thus, the poster says "hope." 


I bet you recognize this image!


  •  He wishes he were taller. (His legs will never change, so it's impossible!)
  • They wished their mom would quit telling them to do chores.

  •  She hopes it won't rain today. (There's a chance it won't rain, so this is possible!) 
  • They had hoped to see butterflies, but they weren't so lucky.



You can also use wish to say that you want someone to do something differently. To do this, use wish+would.


  • I wish you would listen more and talk less!
  • She wished the sun would shine so she could swim. 


After evaluating these examples, you should be able to properly use wish or hope when you are communicating in English. Take a moment to re-read the information, and practice making some sentences of your own.

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