In English, we express hypothetical sentences about past events that happened differently using the third form of “if” sentences, known as “if-3.”
“If I hadn’t eaten (if + had + verb 3), too much chocolate, I wouldn’t have been ill.”
This means: “I ate too much chocolate, and I got sick.”
In these sentences, we consider the opposite of what actually happened.
- If our team hadn’t lost, we would have gone to the championship in the USA.
- If she hadn’t been driving too fast, she wouldn’t have had an accident. (She drove too fast and had an accident, so the opposite is considered here.)
- If doctors hadn’t invented the cures for illnesses, a lot of people would have died. (People didn’t die because doctors invented cures.)
These sentences express regret and criticism:
- I wish I had a house near the sea. (I don’t have one, but I wish I did.)
- I wish I had called him earlier. (I didn’t call early, but I wish I had.)
- If only they hadn’t broken up. (They did break up, but it’s wished that they didn’t.)
- If only he hadn’t failed his test. (He did fail, but it’s wished that he didn’t.)
- I wish I knew more about you. (A wish to know more about you in the present – If 2)
- I wish I had known more about you. (A wish to have known more about you in the past – If 3)
Remember, “if-2” expresses thoughts related to our present, while “if-3” expresses regret or criticism related to the past.