How to Express Good Wishes in English with the Verb 'Wish' | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 20 January 2024)

In our everyday lives, we often find ourselves in social situations where we want to offer good wishes to others. Whether it is a birthday, a holiday, or just a kind thought, expressing our hopes for someone's happiness, health, or success is a common practice

One of the verbs we frequently use to convey these sentiments is wish. However, using this verb correctly can be a bit tricky for learners of English. In this post, we will explore how to use wish to express good wishes and highlight a common error to avoid.

The Correct Use of Wish for Expressing Good Wishes

When we use the verb wish to say that we hope someone will be happy, lucky, successful, etc., we use the pattern wish someone something:

We wish you peace and joy this holiday season.

We wish him all the success in his new job.

✅ I wish you every happiness in your marriage.

I wish you the strength to overcome the challenges you're facing.

A Common Error with Wish and How to Avoid It

A frequent error occurs when people use wish followed by a present tense or future tense construction:

I wish you have a happy birthday.
✅ I wish you a happy birthday.

We wish she will recover speedily.
We wish her a speedy recovery.

We wish you will be lucky.
We wish you luck.

❌ I wish you will be happy and healthy in the coming year.
✅ I wish you happiness and health in the coming year.

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Examples from the Media

But even more so, I’d like to wish everyone reading this a safe and joy filled Christmas and a very Happy New Year. —Toronto Star (2022)

I genuinely wish him the best of luck because the economic and social consequences of continued failure will be nothing short of diabolical. —The Sydney Morning Herald (2023)

Before the game William delivered a 'good luck' message from the Queen to FA chairman Geoff Thompson to pass on to the England squad. The letter, signed 'Elizabeth R', wished the team a 'successful and rewarding' World Cup. —Daily Mail (2006)

I wish the family of the victim comfort during this difficult time, but to dismiss this as a simple accident leaves open the potential for many more such "accidents" to occur. —The New York Times (2013)

Real-World Examples of Misuse

1. From is the correct preposition to use with absence. Therefore, if you could not attend a birthday party, you would say I'm sorry for my absence from your birthday party, which means you were not there. On the other hand, if you were there, you would use at, as in I was happy to be at your birthday party. Saying in your birthday party is a common mistake among learners.
2. The construction wish you have is not grammatically correct. When we use the verb wish to express our hope that something good will happen to someone, we follow the pattern wish someone something.
(Source: Integrated English Practice for Junior Forms, Book 1)

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