Expressing Regret in English (EFL/ESL English Speaking lessons)

EFL/ESL English Speaking lessons

Expressing a regret in English 

Expressing regret – Regret is a feeling of being sorry about something you have done or something you haven’t been able to do. Every day, we feel sad about the things we have done, which are wrong,  or things we didn’t do, and we think we should have done them. As an English learner, it is to express regret because there are so many expressions that you can use. Usually, there are four ways you can express regret in English:

  1. Expressing a regret in English using the verb regret

  1. Subject + regret + verb +ing   /   Subject + regret + noun                       
  • I regret being careless
  • They regret the past experiences
  • She regrets wasting my time
  1. Expressing a regret in English using If only/I wish

  • I wish / If only + past perfect (had + verb past participle)

Let’s suppose a friend of yours invited you to a party, but you answered: “ Sorry, I can’t”. Now, you are talking to him, he said “ the party was amazing” and you said: 1)-I wish I had attended 2)- If only I had been there

  1. Expressing a regret in English using (should have)

  • Subject + should have + verb (past participle)
  • Subject + shouldn’t have + verb (past participle)


  • I should have revised for the exam
  • They shouldn’t have done that
  • He should have gone to the supermarket yesterday, the fridge is empty right now.
  • I should have brought some food with me, I’m starving right now.
  1. Expressing a regret in English using conditional type three

If + subject +past perfect (had +past participle of the verb), subject +would have + past participle of the verb


  • If I had revised my lessons, I would have got a good grade.
  • If I had known about the exercise, I would have done it.
  • I wouldn’t have missed the class I they had told me about it.

More Examples about expressing regret in English:

  • I regret attending that party.
  • They regret sitting with those silly people.
  • I should have exercised a lot when I was young.
  • She  shouldn’t have traveled
  • I wish I had another chance.
  • If only I had gone with them.
  • If I had participated in the contest, I would have won that money.


Express regret

Check your understanding 



Click to Move to Exercises


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top