Regret

In English, the word regret (żałować/żal) is used very differently to the way you use it in Polish. It is seen as rather formal and is usually only used as a noun in formal situations e.g. to announce a death or to cancel an important meeting.

It is with regret that we announce …

Z żalem zawiadamiamy …
Z przykrością zawiadamiamy …

We can use regret as a verb, but this is usually only seen in formal writing or literature. Notice that the second verb uses the -ing form.

I (deeply) regret living so far away from you.

(bardzo) Żałuję, że mieszkam tak daleko od ciebie.

In everyday speech, we normally use wish (życzyć sobie) instead of regret because we are talking about a present situation which we want to change.

I wish (that) I didn’t live so far away from you.

Życzylbym sobie, żebym nie musial tak daleko od ciebie mieszkac.

We can also use this construction to talk about something which makes us angry.

I wish you didn’t spend so much money on new shoes.

Życzylbym sobie, żebyś nie wydała tak dużo pieniędzy na nowe buty.

You can see that in the Polish form życzylbym sobie, żebym … you use a conditional form (tryb warunkowy). We can also use the 2nd conditional in English to show regret.

Remember that the form for the 2nd conditional is:

If + past tense, would + infinitive

If I didn’t live so far away from you, I would be able to visit you every day.

Gdybym nie mieszkał tak daleko od ciebie, byłbym w stanie odwiedzać cię każdego dnia.

Instead of if, we can also use if only, and don’t forget that we don’t have to use would in the main clause, we can use other modal verbs.

If only I didn’t live so far away from you, I could visit you every day.

Gdybym tylko nie mieszkał tak daleko od ciebie, mógłbym odwiedzać cię każdego dnia.

If we want to talk about a past situation, which doesn’t exist now, we can use the 3rd conditional.

Remember that the form for the 3rd conditional is:

If + past perfect, would have + past participle (3rd form)

If I hadn’t lived so far away from you, I would have been able to visit you every day.

Gdybym kiedyś nie mieszkał tak daleko od ciebie, byłbym w stanie odwiedzać cię każdego dnia.

If only I hadn’t lived so far away from you, I could have visited you every day.

Gdybym kiedyś nie mieszkał tak daleko od ciebie, mógłbym odwiedzać cię każdego dnia.

We don’t have to use a negative condition, we can also use a positive condition, just the same as in Polish.

If I had lived closer to you, I could have visited you every day.

Gdybym kiedyś mieszkał blisko ciebie, mógłbym odwiedzać cię każdego dnia.