If only

ScottsEnglishScottsEnglish Administrator Posts: 1,220 admin ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
The expression "if only"

A student recently wrote, "If only you tell me the right answer, then I will improve."

In spoken English, most native speakers would understand. But after the words "if only" we usually use the past tense.

The past: "If only I knew the way to the store, I would not get lost every week." "If only I had studied harder, I would have a better job today."

"If only" is like "I wish", except that it is stronger and usually expresses an impossible situation.

(The above student probably wanted to use the 1st conditional, and write "If you tell me the right answer, then I will improve."

Put the verb in the right tense in the following sentences:

1. If only I _____________ (have) learned how to speak Chinese when I was in school!

2. If only you _______________ (know) how difficult it was to get here in the snowstorm.

3. If only he _________________ (have) brought the proper tools, we could have repaired the table.

4. If only they __________________ (will) do what they said they would do! 

5. If only they __________________ (have) come earlier, they would not have missed the show.

Click here for the correct answers.

1. If only I had (have) learned how to speak Chinese when I was in school!

2. If only you knew (know) how difficult it was to get here in the snowstorm.

3. If only he had (have) brought the proper tools, we could have repaired the table.

4. If only they would (will) do what they said they would do! 

5. If only they had (have) come earlier, they would not have missed the show.





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