I have heard that Wish clauses can only work with the tenses below

Present and future:

-Simple past

-could V1



-Past perfect

-could have done

Is it true or is there any other tense or sturucture???
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Comments  (Page 7) 
FeathersHi all, sorry for butting in again...
Goodman, no need to apologize, I really like your straightforward personality. I'm learning a lot from your posts -- you have a good command of English, as Yoong Liat said. I was a bit surprised, though -- Ithought you'd be the first one to claim that the set of grammar rules is not everything ... Emotion: smile

(I'm reminded of something, by the way... Steven Pinker said one of these days that "people do have very strong feelings about what's correct and incorrect in language, which is a mystery to linguists because there actually isn't anyone who decides what's correct or incorrect." )
Hi Feather,

You are quite observant. I am the kind of people who shoot as straight as an arrowEmotion: wink That- sometimes works against me. English is almost like a bible, depending who is reading it, the meaning and the truth varies. Even the laws are subject to interpreations. That's why there are lawyer to interprete (or mis-interprete for that matter) the laws. Rules and laws are guidelines and with English, I try hard to abide within the boundries. Mr. Liat has insinuated that I am flip-floping conveniently to advance my case. I may have said something in the way Mr. Liat described in the past and I can't remember when and why, rest assured, I was saying that with grammar rules in mind. I love this language and I am still trying to polish and perfect it. To me, there is no compromis to strieving for perfection.As to your comment, that's why we have grammar rules. Emotion: big smile
Yoong LiatHi Feathers

I remember vividly that Goodman often says that the set of grammar rules is not everything. That's why I'm surprised that he is so particular about grammar rules on this occasion.

Yes, that surprises me, too.

Goodman and MrCurious, let's look at the "I wish I would" sentence a little differently:

I've had the flu for three weeks now. For the last two weeks I've been telling people "Don't worry. I've been to the doctor, I'm on medication, and I'm getting plenty of sleep. I'm sure I will get better soon."
Today, however, I'm still feeling just as sick as I did three weeks ago. My prediction has proven false. My health is showing no sign of improvement whatsoever. I'm now frustrated that I can't seem to shake my case of the flu. My body just doesn't seem to want to cooperate. How might I now express "I will get better" in an "I wish" sentence?

Just to make sure that you understand that we're not on completely different pages, I do agree that the subject of wish and the subject of would are usually different.
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YankeeDid you read the rest of my post, MrC? I attempted to make it clear why YL's sentence works.

The danger in stating absolute rules in prescriptive grammar is that doing so doesn't allow for legitimate exceptions.
For example, many grammar books state that the word 'would' may not be used in an IF-clause. That is incorrect. While that rule is usually true, there are times when using 'would' is perfectly acceptable and grammatical in an IF-clause.

Hi Amy,

We don’t always agree on everything but I do respect your credentials in English. If you don’t mind, I would like to hear your opinions. The correct usage of “were” and “was” with the “I wish” construction definitely has become a heated debate. According to traditional English (the kind I have learned), the “I wish I were” or “if” and several other conditional constructions are called “subjunctive” which most native and learners are very familiar with. There are few of those who believe “I wish I was …” is also correct. It’s true that many people use it this way, however, it doesn’t mean it’s a changing trend, and therefore it’s correct to use. True, the user may say whatever he prefers. But when we are on this forum to discuss English, don't you think we all need to conform to the rules of the traditional English? Do you agree? Many respected grammar books now accept 'was' in addition to 'were' in Type 2 IF-sentences as well as in 'wish' sentences. Personally, I would still make it a point to use 'were' in a formal context, but the use of 'was' does seem to be on the rise -- especially in informal contexts.

Having said that, based on the principle of subjunctive, this “was " usage is incorrect in my opinion, whether it’s accepted as mainstream English or otherwise. If something is accepted in mainstream English, why would you want to reject it completely? Obviously, even the English Authorities have varying degrees of opinions, some said it’s incorrect while some said it’s acceptable. My argument is not so much to find out who is right, rather, what the believers’ argument is based on. Clearly the “I wish I …..” is a conditional sentence, which is “subjunctive”. So if one insists on using this “I wish I was” construction and to have the twisted attitude to ask why I keep insisting on the rules of subjunctive, I feel the warped discussion is over. If you don’t mind, would shed some light on the subject? And would you call ithe "was" usage a changing trend and therefore it’s acceptable? Language is a living, breathing animal. It changes and grows with time. Parts of it sometimes die, new usages sprout. It changes because of actual usage, often in spite of what grammarians would have us do.Emotion: wink If yo ufeel uncomfortable answering these direct questions, I do understand.


Hi Amy

What you've just posted is what I always believe in. As I told Goodman earlier, English is evolving, and correct usage depends very much on what is used by the majority. Once the usage is used over a long period of time, it becomes accepted usage. It may surprise some members that 'forty' was spelled 'fourty' long, long ago. 'Fourty' was the correct spelling then. However, somehow the 'u' was dropped and the new version is 'forty'.

You've given a very good reply to Goodman, and I agree with everything that you said.

Best wishes.

Thank you for taking the time to reply. Your answers I am sure made Mr. Liat beaming in smiles. Here is a question, if a teacher is correcting his student’s home work in which students are to write a composition about what they wish for. One wrote “ I wish I was ten feet tall” and the teacher realized that he has been teaching his student all along “ I wish I were…” as the correct form. Do you think he should mark his home work wrong?

If you said it’s a prevailing trend that people are using “was” in the “I wish” context, I take it as your agreement to the usage. That’s ok. That said, I am sure many others feel the way I do. Perhaps in time I may be swayed, until then, I will keep using the “more” correct form, as some others would call it. Cheers
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Hi Goodman

I'm glad that the discussion between you and me has come to an end. I would have to thank Amy for helping us settle the issue, otherwise, I think it would have dragged on for the next one month at least.

I will keep using the “more” correct form, as some others would call it.
Or you may say 'informal'. This is the term used by BritishClub.com.. The 'were' version is formal.

I'm waiting eagerly for Amy's response to your question.

Best wishes.


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Yoong LiatHi Goodman

I'm glad that the discussion between you and me has come to an end. I would have to thank Amy for helping us settle the issue, otherwise, I think it would have dragged on for the next one month at least.

I will keep using the “more” correct form, as some others would call it.
Or you may say 'informal'. This is the term used by BritishClub.com.. The 'were' version is formal.

I'm waiting eagerly for Amy's response to your question.

Best wishes.


We’d traded Google findings to prove our points on the subject for a few days. Enough has been said. To me. the bottom line is this. Even the authorities on English have split opinions, some leaning to your favor while some agreed with mine. As far as “settling” this debate was concerned, Amy’s input has not swayed my traditional view, however convinced me enough to agree to disagree.

You said “I wish I was…” was correct but “were” was “More correct”, as you phrased it. Is this the question you were waiting for Amy to response to? There is nothing “formal” about saying “I wish I were…”. I say and hear it all the time. So “formal” or “informal” are just coined phrases in the reference sources you used. However I do agree, language evolves with time as Amy said. But if we are not careful and take the position to favor the trend of the majority as a guiding instrument for the language’s future, then I am not so sure evolvement it is what we will achieve at the end. For example, just take a look at the how the “Y” generation is using the language. The “chatroom” and the “text message” styling of the language are silently making our kids less and less able to spell and to form sentences that make good “English sense”. Am I being longwinded, or speaking the truth?

That said, I think you are a pretty intelligent guy and I might even get to like you if we ever have a chance to meet over a cup of famous Singaporean style tea. For now, I just don’t think we share the same views and opinions.
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Hi Goodman

Unfortunately Amy hasn't replied to your last question on this topic. I think she has had enough of merry-go-round.

Thanks for the compliment that I'm intelligent. However, I don't think I am. It's just that I've read a lot on grammar and English usage and this is why I'm able to participate actively in this Forum.

Best wishes