Many people live by the motto “No regrets,” but sometimes we need to express at least a minor regret or mistake in English. How do we do so? There are two phrases in English to express regret: “I wish” and “If only.” Both of these phrases are followed by the Past Perfect, which uses the construction HAD + PAST PARTICIPLE.

This week is also the 4th of July, which means fun in the sun for CISL students! The 4th of July is best spent at the beach and barbecuing: the following examples are related these activities and this fun holiday.



I wish + subject  + had (not) + past participle

If only + subject  + had (not) + past participle



Here are some examples of expressing a regret with “I wish” and “If only”:

I wish I had arrived at Pacific Beach earlier. It’s packed!

I wish I hadn’t forgotten sunscreen. I had to borrow some all day!

I wish I had videotaped the incredible fireworks show. Incredible.

I wish I had made more chicken for our BBQ. It was a hit and was gone in 5 minutes!

If only I hadn’t eaten so much. I’m stuffed!

If only I had remembered my metro ticket. Thankfully my friend loaned me his.

If only I hadn’t spilled BBQ sauce on my t-shirt. Whoops!

If only I had waited to go swimming after eating. I got a cramp while I was swimming!



  • Think about some regrets in your life. Here are some examples of possible regrets:
  • Being afraid to do something risky
  • Not saying what is on your mind
  • Not eating/living healthily 
  • Quitting a hobby
  • Not achieving a goal
  • Starting a bad habit
  • Not ending a bad habit
  • Staying in a bad job for too long
  • Not traveling somewhere
  • Not studying/working hard enough


For 4th of July celebrations ideas, check out these websites:


Have a fun and safe 4th of July!