Today I’d like to talk about regret and how we can express regrets in English using some different phrases. I’ll be using my own experiences to demonstrate the examples and then talking about the concept of regret in a deeper way towards the end. I hope you won’t regret listening to this!
1. I wish...
When we make wishes, we have to go one step back into the past.
Past tense expresses present wishes.
Past perfect tense expresses past wishes.
A wish about the present: I wish I was taller
A wish about the past: I wish I hadn’t done that.
2. 3rd Conditional
If + past perfect tense, + would/could/might + have + past participle verb
This structure expresses what things would be like if something different happened.
If I had been taller, I would have had more girlfriends (but it’s too late to change!)
If I hadn’t stayed up so late, I would have felt better this morning.
3. Should have
Should have done / Should not have done
We would often contract it to should’ve or shouldn’t have
I should have studied harder
I shouldn’t have done that
4. I regret...
Followed by a gerund (~ing verb) or noun phrase
Say “I regret doing”, rather than “I regret to do”
I regret not studying harder.
I regret eating too much food.
I regret what I said.
I regret how I acted.
5. To take back
This phrasal verb means “I want to retract what I said and unsay something”. It often expresses regret in what you say.
I take back what I said.
I take back calling you fat.
I wish I could take back all of the bad things I did.
This is a noun and means deep regret.
He expressed remorse for his actions.
I feel a strong remorse for what I did.
- Gloomy – Dark, depressing, dull
- To blurt out – To say something without thinking (often surprising or offensive)
- To account for – to add up to a total, to make up a proportion or amount of something
- Blunder (noun) – Mistake
- To dwell (on something) – To think too much about things that happened in the past
Tell me, what do you regret?