English phrases for talking about regrets

Hello students, it’s Shayna from espressoenglish.net and for today’s video I’m going to answer a question from a student who asked how to talk about regrets. Regrets are things in the past where you made a mistake or did something bad and now you feel bad about it and you wish you had done things differently.

I regret + ING

One option for talking about regrets is simply by using the expression, “I regret,” and the I-N-G form of the verb. Simple right?

If my mistake was I dropped out of school, I didn’t finish my studies then I could say, “I regret dropping out of school.” That’s a very simple phrase you can use to express your regrets but English has a really large variety of different phrases you can use in every situation. Today I’m going to teach you some more phrases for talking about regrets.

I should/shouldn’t have + past participle

The first one, you can say, “I should have or I shouldn’t have,” plus the past participle of the verb. In our example I can say, “I shouldn’t have dropped out of school. I should have stayed in school.” I say, “I shouldn’t have,” and I talk about the bad thing that I did and I can make a different statement by saying, “I should have,” and describe the positive action that I wish I had taken instead. I shouldn’t have dropped out of school, I should have stayed or I should have continued my studies.

I wish I had/hadn’t + past participle

We have something similar with, “I wish.” This is talking about things you wish were different in the past. You can say, “I wish I had or I wish I hadn’t,” and again, that’s followed by the past participle of the verb. I can say, “I wish I hadn’t dropped out of school. I wish I had stayed in school. I wish I had continued my studies.” A couple different ways to use those phrases.

If I could do it over again, I would / wouldn’t + base form

Another common phrase is this one, “If I could do it over again I would or I wouldn’t.” These are followed by the base form of the verb. “If I could do it over again, I would stay in school, or I wouldn’t drop out of school.” In this phrase we’re imagining that the past was different. You can also say, “If I could go back in time, or if I had a second chance. If I had a second chance, I wouldn’t drop out of school, I would stay in school.” Those are all phrases you can use to talk about wishing the past was different.

Now I know that _____ing was a bad idea

One more, you can say, “Now I know that,” your action with the I-N-G form of the verb was a bad idea. “Now I know that dropping out of school was a bad idea.” That’s one more phrase that you can use to talk about your regrets in English.

As you can see we’ve got a lot of different possibilities for the same situation. The English language is like that, right? There’s not just one right way to say things. Native speakers use a lot of different expressions. If you want to learn some of those expressions that native speakers use in everyday life then I would encourage you to check out my speaking courses. I have two of them.

Level One is good for everyday situations, going to the supermarket, going to the bank, socializing with people, talking about regret, giving criticism, giving encouragement a lot of different situations from daily life I teach you the phrases that native speakers use.

I also have Level Two of the speaking course which is for more advanced students and that has conversations that are a little more difficult with more slang and phrasal verbs and informal expression. If you want to learn the basics then take speaking course Level One and if you’re more advanced and looking for a challenge than take speaking course Level Two. I’ll include the links in this video but for now, you’re homework is to put these phrases in practice.

Write a comment on this video and use one or two of these phrases to talk about one of your regrets and something that you wish you had done differently. I’ll be reading and responding to the comments. That’s all for today and I’ll see you at the next lesson.

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