Wish + would for irritation.

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New Member
In the following sentence:
I wish you didn't eat/ wouldn't eat at your desk. Please eat in the kitchen.
which alternative is correct? I know wish + would is used to express irritation, which is possible in the context, but "please" implies a kind request. Are they both correct? Thank you.
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    In BE, "didn't" sounds okay if you add "always"

    I wish you didn't always eat at your desk.
    I wish you didn't eat at your desk all the time.

    I'd say there's not much difference between these sentences and the version with "wish you would not.." It's a complaint and an indirect plea for the annoying habit to change.

    It might sound more natural in the third persoon:

    I wish he didn't eat at his desk. He makes such a mess.

    I wish you wouldn't eat at your desk. The speaker is complaining and indirectly asking the other person to stop doing it.


    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I agree with #2. In AE, "didn't" sounds wrong, "wouldn't" is ordinary for this complaint/request.

    All the comments in #3 apply to AE too.
    As to the BE proposal of Velisarius: I wish you didn't always eat at your desk.

    I think that if an AE speaker wished to complain about a longstanding habit (or wished to make the complaint sound like that), she'd say,

    B2 I wish you weren't always eating at your desk.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Just to prove it's not a figment of my imagination, here's the very British Enid Blyton with a teacher confronting a little boy:

    'I wish you didn't always look so dirty,' said Miss Brown. 'Don't you ever have a bath, Dick? Don't you ever wash your face? And look at your clothes! What have you been doing to them?'
    The Magic Folk Collection: 3 books in 1

    This one seems to be American:

    I wish you wouldn't use our $50 carving knife to cut thick twine when you're tying up old newspapers. I wish you liked to dress up sometimes— even just wear regular shoes instead of sneakers. Andy: I wish you didn't fall asleep ...

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