Ojalá – Translation and Meaning in English

Definition Ojalá is a Spanish expression that people can use to express their wishes, hopes or expectations. It can also be used to talk about past regrets or mistakes. Depending on the context and the grammar elements in the sentence, ‘ojalá’ can be translated as ‘I wish’, ‘I hope’, ‘Hopefully’, ‘If only’, or ‘Let’s hope so’.

What does ‘Ojalá’ mean?

  • Translation #1: It can mean ‘I wish’. 
  • Translation #2: It can also be translated as ‘I hope’. 
  • Translation #3: When agreeing with someone else’s wishes, hopes, regrets or expectations, it can be translated as ‘Let’s hope so’, ‘Hopefully’, ‘I hope so’ or ‘If only’. 

How and When to use ‘Ojalá’?

  • To talk about wishes, past regrets or mistakes. In Spanish, ‘ojalá’ is a word or expression that we use to express our wishes. In this context, we use ‘ojalá’ to talk about unreal or imaginary wishes that we want. This word can also be used to express remorse about past regrets or mistakes. Therefore, in both situations, this Spanish expression means ‘I wish’.  
  • To talk about hopes or expectations: We can also use this expression to talk about our hopes or possible expectations for the future. As a result, in this context, ‘ojalá’ means ‘I hope’. 
  • To agree with someone else’s hopes, wishes, regrets or expectations: Even though ‘ojalá’ can be part of a sentence, it’s also very common to use it as a single expression or response. In this case, we use this word to show agreement with another person’s wishes, expectations, hopes or regrets. In this type of situation, ‘ojalá’ means ‘I hope so’, ‘Let’s hope’, ‘Hopefully’ or ‘If only’. 

Examples of How to Use Ojalá

The following examples will help you understand how to use ‘ojalá’ correctly.

To express your wishes, past regrets, or mistakes

As a synonym of ‘I wish’, ‘ojalá’ is used by Spanish speakers to express their wishes, past regrets or mistakes. In this context, ‘ojalá’ is part of a sentence that follows a structure similar to this one:

Ojalá + [imperfect subjunctive] 

Ojalá hablara español más rápido y fluido
I wish I spoke Spanish faster and more fluently

No voy a irme de vacaciones con usted, ojalá pudiera, pero tengo que trabajar
I’m not going on vacation with you guys, I wish I could, but I have to work

Here are some examples when expressing regrets.

El examen estuvo muy difícil, ojalá hubiera estudiado
The exam was very though, I wish I had studied

Ojalá no le hubiera dicho a mi jefe que María se equivocó
I wish I hadn’t told my boss that Maria made a mistake

As you may have noticed, the previous examples are based on the first person singular Yo (I). This doesn’t mean that you can only use ‘ojalá’ with the first person. 

You can also use this word to express other people’s wishes, regrets or expectations; however, when doing so you will need to transform your sentences into what is known as reported speech. Here are some examples:

Julio dice que ojalá tuviera tiempo de venir con nosotros
Julio says that he wishes he had time to come with us

Mis papás están muy preocupados, dijeron que ojalá pudieran hacer algo para ayudarte
My parents are very worried about you, they said they wish they could do something to help you

To express your hopes or expectations about the future

As established before, in Spanish, we can also use ‘ojalá’ to express our hopes or expectations about the future. Therefore, in this situation, this word would be translated as ‘I hope’. Keep in mind that in this context, we can talk about our own future as well as someone else’s. Here are some examples: 

Ojalá + [present subjunctive] 

Ojalá puedas venir 
I hope that you can come tomorrow

¡Feliz cumpleaños! Ojalá te la pases been
Happy birthday! I hope you have a great time

Estoy cansada de trabajar, ojalá el año que viene pueda tomar vacaciones
I’m tired of working, I hope next year I can take a vacation

Escuché que fuiste a una entrevista, ojalá que te den el trabajo 
I heard that you went to a job interview, I hope you get the job

To agree with someone else’s wishes, hopes or regrets

We can also use ‘ojalá’ to express our agreement with another person’s wishes, hopes or regrets. In this case, we don’t need to use this Spanish phrase as part of a sentence, we can use it alone as a way to respond to someone else. Depending on the context, in this situation, ‘ojalá’ could be translated as ‘I hope so’, ‘Let’s hope so’, ‘If only, or ‘Hopefully’.

Persona 1: Espero que mañana podamos terminar este proyectoPerson 1: I hope that tomorrow we can finish this project
Persona 2: Ya sé, ¡ojalá!Person 2: I know, if only!

As you may see in the previous example, in this context, ‘ojalá’ doesn’t have a direct translation into English. Here is another example that will show you how this meaning can change depending on the situation. 

Persona 1: ¿Cómo te fue en la entrevista? ¿Te van a llamar otra vez?Person 1: How did the interview go? Are they going to call you again?
Persona 2: ¡Ojalá!Persona 2: Hopefully!

Who Can You Use ‘Ojalá’ With?

‘Ojalá’ is a very common expression that we use in Spanish in all types of situations and people. Therefore, you can use it both in formal and casual conversations.

Other Ways to Say ‘Ojalá’

Here are other synonyms that you can use to replace ‘ojalá’ when needed. 

Desearía This is another word for expressing your wishes, expectations or remorses about past mistakes. It’s the direct translation of ‘I wish’ so we use it to talk about wishes that are very unlikely to happen. 

Quisiera‘Quisiera’ is another way to express wishes and hopes. As a result, it can be translated as ‘I wish’ or ‘I hope’. When using ‘quisiera’ you need to add an infinitive verb to your sentence.

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I've been studying Spanish professionally as well as teaching it in Mexico and online for over 10 years. I’ve taught Spanish to a wide array of foreigners from many backgrounds. Over the years, I've made it my mission to work hard on refining many challenging to understand grammar topics to make my students' learning experiences easier, faster and more enjoyable. Read More About Me

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