I Wish VS I Hope

Usually, people can use these two expressions interchangeably. However, there are some cases where we cannot use both. Let us first define hope and wish

Hope is desire for something (that has a possibility/chance to happen).

Wish is desire for something (that is usually imagined/hypothetical/impossible).


QUESTION: When is wish more commonly used? When is hope more commonly used?

1. “Hope” is more commonly used for things that are possible to happen.

  • I hope it stops raining.
  • I hope you can come to my party next week.

2. “Wish” is more commonly used for imagined things or impossible desires.

  • I wish I can have wings and fly. (impossible desire)
  • I wish you were here with me. (imagined thing)
  • I wish I had studied well for the exam. (imagined thing… since this is in past tense, then, we can assume it’s impossible to happen because it’s impossible to turn back time… I wish we can turn back time but sadly, we can’t.)

3. Both “wish” and “hope” can be used for request to someone, however, the time differs.

  • I wish to talk to the doctor now. (wish is usually used for present tense… with some urgency for the request)
  • I hope to talk with you soon. (hope is usually used for later events/situations)

4. Both “wish” and “hope” can be used for celebrations, however, the grammatical pattern is a little different.

  • I wish you a happy birthday.
  • I hope you have a happy birthday.


Some points to remember about “HOPE”:

1) “hope” is usually used with present tense, past tense and past perfect tense.

  • I hope you have a nice day.
  • I hope you had a nice day.
  • I hope you’ve had a nice day.

2) When it comes to future tense, it doesn’t sound wrong (most of the times) but I don’t recommend using it with future tense. Here’s the catch, hope is already a desire for something to happen in the future so the present form already indicates the future.

  • I hope it stops raining soon. (better)
  • I hope it will stop raining soon.

Though both sound okay (to me), the second one has a contradiction.

When you say “will,” it’s something that’s certain to happen. For instance, “He will come” means he will surely come. So, if you use hope (something not yet certain but possible to happen) with will (something certain to happen), there will be a contradiction/confusion in the sentence.

I hope it will stop raining soon. (hope – chance, will – certainty… two words indicating the future with different meanings in one sentence. It doesn’t sound wrong but it might cause a confusion)

So, to avoid any confusion, just use the present tense instead of the future tense when using hope. This is just my opinion though. Sorry, you can try asking  native speakers or consulting books… then tell me about it!

m(_ _)m

I hope this post helps somehow.

***Disclaimer: These are just my opinions/views on how we use these words in my country… with a little research and help from my native speaker friends. If you are a native English speaker and you see something wrong here or you want to add something, I would be very glad to hear from you. Thanks!


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