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Wish + Subjunctive

You have words - now what do you do with them?

Postby saparris » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:06 pm

I wish I were happy=I wish I was being happy, but I'm not.
Fine.

I wish I walked home=I wish I was walking, but I am not.
This works only if you mean that you would like to walk home every day (instead of riding the bus, for example). Otherwise, it's hard to tell what you mean.

I wish I had been happy=Presently wish I had been happy, but I wasn't.

Fine.

I wish I had walked home=Presently wish I had walked, but I did not walk.
Fine.
I wished I were happy=I wished I were happy at the time of wishing, but I wasn't.
Fine.

I wished I walked home=I wished I walked home at the time of wishing, but I didn't walk.
No. The wishing and walking cannot take place simultaneously. Walking takes place over a longer period of time.

I wished I had been happy=I wished I had been happy in a time before I wished, but I wasn't happy.
Fine.

I wished I had walked home=I wished I had walked home in a time before wishing, but I hadn't walked.

Fine.
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Postby Slava » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:28 pm

saparris wrote:I wish I walked home=I wish I was walking, but I am not.
This works only if you mean that you would like to walk home every day (instead of riding the bus, for example). Otherwise, it's hard to tell what you mean.

I wished I walked home=I wished I walked home at the time of wishing, but I didn't walk.
No. The wishing and walking cannot take place simultaneously. Walking takes place over a longer period of time.
I agree with your fines, so I've dropped them.

I also agree with your comment to the first point here, but I think the same could apply to the second.

"I was reminiscing about my college days a while back. I wished I walked home back then." It does require the extra bits to justify it, but the construction itself can be valid, just as in the first example.
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Postby saparris » Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:00 am

I see you point, although I wished I had walked home is clearer and conveys the same message as yours.

Interesting how nuances can alter meaning.
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Postby Slava » Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:11 am

saparris wrote:I see you point, although I wished I had walked home is clearer and conveys the same message as yours.

Interesting how nuances can alter meaning.
It's the extra bits that add the clarity. Your example here would be clearer with a time frame.

"I wished I had walked home the night my girlfriend broke up with me. Instead I drove, and instead of kissing her, I kissed a tree."
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Postby Enigma » Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:31 am

"I was reminiscing about my college days a while back. I wished I walked home back then." It does require the extra bits to justify it, but the construction itself can be valid, just as in the first example.


Are you trying to say that the wishing was concurrent with the walking though?
What you see, yet can not see over, is as good as infinite. ~Thomas Carlyle
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Postby Enigma » Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:39 am

I wish I were happy=I wish I was being happy, but I'm not.
Fine.

I wish I walked home=I wish I was walking, but I am not.
This works only if you mean that you would like to walk home every day (instead of riding the bus, for example). Otherwise, it's hard to tell what you mean.


I agree. It's interesting how some verbs just don't work, so it's not the structure that's wrong, just the meaning conveyed by the verb used.

For example, "I wish I knew how to cook."

This works fine because 'knew' expresses a habitual action, unlike 'walked,' which usually isn't used to convey such a meaning.
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