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Guest:
Which is grammatically correct and why:

I wish I were there.

OR

I wish I was there.
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Which is grammatically correct and why:

I wish I were there.

OR

I wish I was there.

=

Both are grammatically correct because in modern English, the only thing needed to express a counterfactual situation is a past tense verb.

If I was you = I'm not you,

just as,

If I were you = I'm not you.

It works the same way with 'wish'.
Junior Member81
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Question and Answer in an online site
[Q] Which is grammatically correct: "I wish I were you" or "I wish I was you"?
[A] Older, prescriptive grammar books insist on the use of the subjunctive form "were". Most modern, descriptive grammar books accept both "were" and "was" as being grammatically acceptable, but they suggest that "I wish I were" is more appropriate in formal contexts.

My opinion:
Each ESL student has their own purpose of learning English. If your purpose is just to talk with native speakers, you can use "I wish I was". But if you want to study something by reading books or other forms of formal documents written in English, it would be better you learn "I wish I were" is more appropriate, because writers of such a document mostly have used and still are using "I wish I were" in their writing.

paco
Senior Member4,095
Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.
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The older prescriptive grammars were simply wrong. Their analysis was wrong and the proof they offered was wrong. It was just one more rule that was wrong from the outset. The rule actually changed hundreds of years ago and yet these prescriptive grammars kept on misanalyzing this for centuries.

A student who isn't made aware of these differences really hasn't learned the language. A student who doesn't realize how and when to use different collocations really hasn't learned the language.

Language is much more than formal documents. Studies have shown that most students want to use English for the more casual things; watching a movie, listening to music, talking in English. There is far too much emphasis put on the formal aspects of language and this is actually very sad because this doesn't adequately prepare students for real life.

IMHO the collocations, "I wish I were/was" would be as rare as hen's teeth in formal documents. There is much of language that is reserved for formal and much that is reserved for casual. Relying on one form only can make your language sound very stilted.

My students often choose words inappropriate {too formal} for the register. This sounds just as bad as using casual language in a formal setting. They've learned numerous bad language habits precisely because of this terrible system known as grammar translation.
Junior Member53
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The older prescriptive grammars were simply wrong. Their analysis was wrong and the proof they offered was wrong.

You intrigue me, K.

Do you have any examples?

MrP
Veteran Member12,806
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.
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On second thoughts, K., I don't want to weigh down the thread with learned documentation. See:

Prescriptive Grammarians - Who Are They?

MrP
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.
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This explanation, from Pete at englishpage.com I think is one of the best explanations:

http://www.englishpage.com/forums/students/viewtopic.php?p=13154#13154

The correct form is,
- I wish I were there.

You use this form to show an "unreal" situation, i.e. the thing you are wishing for is not the way things really are.

You may sometimes hear "was" used, since the subjunctive is relatively uncommon in English and people sometimes forget to use it, but "were" is definitely the correct verb.
_______________
---- Pete
New Member01
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"You may sometimes hear "was" used, since the subjunctive is relatively uncommon in English ..."

Emotion: tongue tied

Googled: Results 1 - 10 of about 5,060,000 English pages for "if I were".

"... and people sometimes forget to use it, ... ."

Emotion: tongue tied

Googled: Results 1 - 10 of about 3,560,000 English pages for "if I was".
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If you restrict your search domain to ".edu", the result would be like this:
"If I were you" 12,000
"If I was you" 689.
I think people come here to learn the variety of English spoken by educated people.

paco
Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.
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