How do you express a wish in the past?

T3rminus

Member
romanian
This type is used to express a wish right now:I wish I were taller.
And now let's say that has been 10 years since then, so, how do you express that wish in the past?Do you do it like this:I wished I were taller. or like this:I wish I had been taller.?
And one more thing.How about this?
I wish he would have told me.
I wished he would tell me.(but I think this would have been used if it were "wish" and not wished.
I wished he had told me.
What do you think about these?Are all of them correct?
 
  • KHS

    Senior Member
    Ten years ago, I wished I were taller. (but maybe I now think that was a stupid thing to have wished)
    I wish I had been taller ten years ago. (The person wishes now that at that point in the past he had been taller - but it's unclear if the person wished it at the time)

    I normally use "I wish (now) / I wished (then) he had told me"
    I know people sometimes use "would," but I don't. I sometimes wonder if the use of "would" evolved from the fact that "he'd" is a contraction for both forms.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    And one more thing.How about this?
    I wish he would have told me.
    I wished he would tell me.(but I think this would have been used if it were "wish" and not wished.
    I wished he had told me.
    What do you think about these?Are all of them correct?
    In BrE:-
    "I wish he would have told me" is ungrammatical.
    "I wished he would tell me" sounds odd but may be possible (?) in the sense: "I wanted him to tell me."
    "I wish he would tell me" is grammatical, but it is about the present and the future, not the past: I wish now.
    "I wished he had told me" is grammatical. Something happened in the past, but he didn't tell me: I wished that he had (told me).
    "I wish he had told me" is grammatical. Something happened in the past, but he didn't tell me. I wish now that he had (told me).
     
    Last edited:

    T3rminus

    Member
    romanian
    What do you think about:
    I wish he would have told me.
    I wished he would have told me.
    Is there a difference? or one of the 2 is not correct?
     

    -mack-

    Senior Member
    American English
    What do you think about:
    I wish he would have told me.
    I wished he would have told me.
    Is there a difference? or one of the 2 is not correct?
    For AmE, both of these sound okay.
    "I wish he would have told me" means right now that's how you feel.
    "I wished he would have told me" means that's how you felt at that time in the past.

    ("I wish he had told me", is also okay in AmE.)
     

    T3rminus

    Member
    romanian
    And how do the British use instead of this?If they wish/wished something to have happened what/how would they say?
    Ohh and one more thing:"I wish he would have told me, but he didn't/hadn't."
    "I wished he would have told me, but he didn't/hadn't."
    What negation is correct?
     

    KHS

    Senior Member
    I think that the uses in AmE of

    I wish he would have told me.
    I wished he would have told me.

    appear more often than not in spoken English, and may be considered "incorrect" by some people.

    I searched in COCA (Corpus of Contemporary American English)
    http://corpus.byu.edu/coca

    using the search term

    wish * would have [VVN]

    and checking randomly for the sources of the various instances confirms my sense that it appears primarily in spoken form
     
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