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Exclamatory sentences.

Only can be placed after if and indicates hope, a wish or regret, according to the tense used with it. This adds emphasis to hypothetical situations.

The form of the Past Indefinite including the form were is used in the following type of exclamatory s-s to express a wish which can’t be fulfilled or regret:

Oh, if only Tom were here! (We’re sorry he isn’t here.)

Oh, if only I knew what to do! (I’m sorry I don’t know what to do.)

In the above examples reference is made to the present.

With reference to the past the form of the Past Perfect is used to express regret:

Oh, if only you hadn’t said ,’Liar’! (We are sorry you said, ‘Liar”.)

If only + would / could can express

regret about a present action as an alternative to if only + past tense

or a not very hopeful wish concerning the future:

If only he would drive more slowly! ~ We are sorry that he isn’t willing to drive more slowly.

If only the rain would stop! ~ We don’t really expect it to stop.

If only + present tense / will expresses hope:

If only he comes in time! ~ We hope he’ll come in time.

If only clauses can stand alone as above or form part of a full conditional sentence.

4. Finish each of these sentences in such a way that it means exactly the same as the sentence printed before it.

A. 1. No one wants to go out with me. I’m so ugly! — If only I weren’t _____ . 2. I always leave my things about. — If only _____ . 3. I always confide my secrets to strangers. — If only _____ . 4. My brother always leaves his room in a mess. — If only _____ . 5. It’s very difficult for me to teach children, as I hate them. — If only _____ . 6. My younger brother is always getting on my nerves. — If only _____ . 7. I always forget people’s names. — If only _____ . 8. I’ll never get promotion as I lack self-confidence. — If only _____ . 9. I argue with my parents for no obvious reason. — If only _____ . 10. I’m a new kid in town and I’ve no friends to go out with. — If only _____ . 11. I lack experience in this kind of work. — If only _____ . 12. My room is always in a mess as I’m too lazy to put everything in order. — If only _____ . 13. He’ll never fall in love with me. I’m too old for him. — If only _____ . 14. I work day and night, but there never seems to be a single penny left for me. — If only _____ . 15. He says he loves me but I don’t believe him. — If only _____ . 16. I’m sick and tired of working for somebody. — If only _____ .

B. 1. I overslept and missed my train. — If only I hadn’t _____ . 2. You’ve slipped and broken your mother’s favourite vase. — If only _____ . 3. You’ve spent too much money on make-up and now you are a bit hard up. — If only _____ . 4. During my life I’ve lied to so many people that nobody believes me now. — If only _____ . 5. We had an awful fortnight in that rest house. — If only _____ . 6. Yesterday I was caught in the rain without an umbrella or a raincoat and my nose is running now. — If only _____ . 7. You told your friend that her partner is seeing another girl. She called you a liar and doesn’t talk to you any more. — If only _____ . 8. You cracked a joke and hurt your friend’s feelings without meaning it. — If only _____ . 9. You’ve been fired because you betrayed your firm’s secrets. — If only _____ . 10. At the party you were making eyes at some handsome guy and now everyone says that you were too pushy. — If only _____ . 11. You’ve got a bad mark today because you spent the whole Sunday watching TV. — If only _____ . 12. You didn’t like French at the Institute and now you need it for your job badly. — If only _____ . 13. You’ve slipped on a rock and broken your leg. — If only _____ . 14. You stayed in the sun too long and got sunburnt. — If only _____ . 15. You got your best dress torn on a bus. — If only _____ . 16. You were very nervous at the exam and failed. — If only _____ .

C. 1. Tom is on a business trip and you need his help tomorrow. — If only he would _____ . 2. You need this job badly. — If only _____ . 3. You’ve applied for the position of the manager of a hotel. — If only _____ . 4. My friend is sick. — If only _____ . 5. My son has lots of girlfriends but he doesn’t want to marry any. — If only _____ . 6. He promised to call me tomorrow. I hope he will. — If only _____ . 7. They’re sure to be planning something awful. — If only _____ . 8. All my friends have toy-cars. Will you buy me one? — If only _____ . 9. I hate living with my parents. — If only _____ . 10. Grammar’s my weak point and I’m having a test tomorrow. — If only _____ . 11. No one calls me. I feel so bored and lonely. — If only _____ . 12. I’ve bought my friend a new trendy tie but I’m not sure if he’ll like it. — If only _____ . 13. I’ve been waiting for Tom to call me for two hours already. — If only _____ . 14. I’m dreaming of becoming a movie star. — If only _____ .