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Regrets, I’ve had a few…


Regret means: to feel bad, sad, or sorry about your behavior or actions in the past.

We can feel regret about things we did and things we did not do.

  • I regret going to the party. It was not fun.
  • I regret not going to the party. I heard it was fun.

Everybody experiences regret. Some of us feel regret on a regular basis, so it is important to know how to express regret in English.

Before we learn how to express regret, remember that we can have big regrets and small regrets. We use these sentences for major things as well as trivial things.

Some examples of major regrets could be:

  • I regret not marrying her.
  • I should have quit smoking a long time ago.

Some trivial regrets could be things like:

  • I should have ordered a hamburger like you. This salad is not delicious.
  • I regret eating that cookie. I’m going to gain weight.

Now, let’s see some different ways that we can use to express regret. All of these are very common in spoken and written English.

1. I should have + past participle / I shouldn’t have + past participle

  • I should have called you. I am sorry.
  • I should have gone to bed earlier last night. I am so tired today.
  • We shouldn’t have bought this house. It is too big for us.
  • I shouldn’t have said that. I am sorry.

Note:This only expresses regret when used with the subjects “I” or “We”. With other subjects, this sentence pattern shows that the speaker thinks the other person made a mistake. For example, “He shouldn’t have quit his job. Why did he do that?”.

2. I wish (that) I had + past participle / I wish (that) I hadn’t + past participle

  • I wish I had studied English harder when I was young.
  • He wishes I had married her.
  • I wish that I hadn’t bought this stock.
  • We wish that we hadn’t moved to Los Angeles. We miss New York.

3. I regret + gerund / I regret not + gerund

  • I regret ordering this.
  • She regrets opening a coffee shop.
  • They regret not practicing hard.
  • We regret not telling you the truth.

If a person no longer feels regret, then we could use “regret” in the past tense.

  • She regretted buying the shirt, but now she likes it.
  • At first, we regretted moving to Los Angeles, but it is growing on me.

4. If only I had + past participle / If only I hadn’t + past participle

  • If only I had listened to my mother’s advice.
  • If only we hadn’t invited him, the party would have been perfect.

Note:This only expresses regret when used with the subjects “I” or “We”. With other subjects, this sentence pattern shows that the speaker thinks the other person made a mistake. For example, “If only he had married her, his life would be so much better.”

Watch this video about ‘Expressing regret in English’ which is very clear and illustrative as well as entertaining and funny.

Now that you know different ways to express regret in English, go to your Student’s Book on page 141, Grammar Bank 5B ‘Structures after wish to learn more about wish + would, and practise it doing the exercises there.

After that, practise your reading skill and go to your Student’s Book on page 50, read the text ‘REGRETS, WE’VE HAD A FEW (OUR LOVE LIVES, HEALTH, CHILDHOODS…) and do its corresponding activities.

The keys for both tasks will be uploaded on the blog for you for self-correcting.

Your turn!

Once you have done that, we are going to talk about regrets. You are going to record a video (max. 3 minutes) talking about things you regret having or not having done in the past.

To do so, you will need your mobile phone or a computer with a webcam.

1) Think about what you are going to say ( I recommend making an outline first!)

2) If you are going to use your computer, go to If you are going to use your phone, dowload the App Flipgrid.

3) Go to the box that says “Enter a flipgrid code” and introduce the code I sent you by email, then click on the arrow.

4) Read the instructions and the tip and then click on “Record a response” or on the round green icon with a white cross.

5) It will ask for a gmail or Microsoft email address (hotmail and msn emails are valid). Introduce an email address and you can record your video.

6) You can also watch your classmates’ videos and reply if you want!

You have until the 5th of May to do this!

Finally, enjoy the song ‘My way’ by Frank Sinatra with

Regrets, I’ve had a few
but then again, too few to mention

And more, much, much more
I did it, I did it my way.



Practise your English, sing, enjoy and have fun!

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