prayed that he were.... / wished that he had been....

sagar grammar

Senior Member
Dear members.

In this question I thought that's a present unreality and can never be true so it should be #1 but they said #2 to be an answer.
Are they right to say so?
Help me get the point clearly.

:- Rajan said, "O that I were a child again !"

1- Rajan prayed that he were a child again.:confused:
2- Rajan strongly wished that he had been a child again.:confused:
3- Rajan wondered that he were a child again.:cross:
4- Rajan exclaimed with wonder that he was a child again.:cross:
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    Senior Member
    American English
    None of them is good for me:

    5- Rajan prayed to be a child again.
    6- Rajan wished that he was a child again.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    2 - seems to be following a rule where "were" is always backshifted to "had been" in reported speech.

    I don't think this will always work, even when "were" is not hypothetical:

    "They were only children!" she exclaimed.
    She exclaimed that they had only been children.


    Senior Member
    English UK
    B);- He said, "o that I were a bird!"
    B1- He wished that he were a bird.
    B2- He wished that he had been a bird.

    Which one should be chosen in this case(B)?
    B1- He wished that he were a bird.

    (I would prefer "was" - but that isn't the issue here.)


    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Because "prayed" is completely wrong. Rajan is expressing a wish or a desire, but it certainly isn't a prayer.

    It is as if I said "Wouldn't it be nice to win the lottery?" That certainly is not the same thing as saying "Dear God, please grant that I will win the lottery."
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