I wish you were/ I wish you would be

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by spooky doll, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. spooky doll

    spooky doll Senior Member

    italy
    Italy italian
    Buonasera:)
    Stavo ripassando alcune regole di grammatica e mi sono imbattuta nell'uso di wish + would. Mi è sorto un dubbio, è possibile dire:
    "I wish you were more helpful" e "I wish you would be more helpful"
    Un altro esempio: "I wish somebody bought me a car" o " I wish somebody would buy me a car". Chi mi spiega l'uso delle due frasi?
    Grazie;)
     
  2. Janey UK

    Janey UK Senior Member

    Norfolk, England
    Native speaker of British English
    Both "I wish you were more helpful" and "I wish you would be more helpful" are acceptable sentences, though I'd probably use them in slightly different ways.

    I'd probably use "I wish you were more helpful" when talking to someone about their habitual behaviour, as in: "I wish you were more helpful around the house, instead of always drinking with your mates down the pub!"

    Whereas I'd probably use "I wish you would be more helpful" for a specific instance of someone not being very proactive with his help, as in "I wish you would be more helpful and come over here and hold up the other end of this shelf whilst I knock in the nails!"

    It's not inconceivable that I'd use "I wish you would be more helpful" for habitual behaviour too, but only in a sentence such as: "I've been working really long hours lately, and I wish you would be more helpful once in a while so that I don't feel like I'm doing all the work around here!"

    As for your second set of sentences, "I wish somebody would buy me a car" sounds fine and natural to me, but "I wish somebody bought me a car" sounds terrible. It only sounds natural in sentences such as:
    "Kids nowadays are so spoilt! I wish someone HAD bought me a car when I was 16!"
     
  3. giovannino

    giovannino Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Though I didn't ask the question it's something that's always bugged me so thanks for a great explanation, Janey:thumbsup:
     
  4. spooky doll

    spooky doll Senior Member

    italy
    Italy italian
    thank you Janey :)
    You have been very clear and helpful!
     
  5. Janey UK

    Janey UK Senior Member

    Norfolk, England
    Native speaker of British English
    Prego :) I just hope other native speakers agree with me! ;)
     
  6. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    Italian

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