120 Regret

Expressing Regret

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

Hagrid 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.

6. Remorse

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?

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6 thoughts on “#120 I Have So Many Regrets! (How to Express Remorse)”

  1. ruzicalevuskina

    Thank you for one more podcast! Good pronounciation for non native speakers – very clearly and understandable.
    “I wish I could use English more” – the simpliest example. As for the conditionals, I haven’t learnt them all and I’m a little afraid to write, but I can try: “If I had been more clever when I was young, I might haven’t been done some mistakes”.

    1. Thanks for listening! Don’t be afraid to try conditionals. Let’s embrace mistakes 🙂 Your example is fantastic.
      I would just change “might haven’t been done..” to “might not have made..” then it’s perfect!

  2. thanks for being a motivational podcaster and teacher I would like to suggest to keep making a long podcast I like to listen to your long podcasts like this podcast so I can replay it and lesson twice to it

  3. Good after noon from saudi arabia I am rehab i would to tell you how i penfit for your podcast My example is
    1- I wish I had my parents advice as a importent thing
    2-If i had a serious advice from my parents ,I might be a better person .
    I hope i am doing goood
    Thanks for your helping

    1. Hi Rehab, thanks for listening and commenting!
      Good practice!
      Here, just add “it is” in the second half and it’s perfect! “I wish I had my parents advice, as it is an important thing”
      For the 2nd, if you want it to be a true 3rd conditional, we would say: “If I had had serious advice from my parents, I might have been a better person” (but some people might say it in the way you did too, so don’t worry!)

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