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  1. #1
    Rezafo's Avatar
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    How to use "wish" in this context?

    Some people in another forum are discussing this question, and still they are not sure about the correct answer, so I decided to post it here to ask the right phrase.

    John went to a concert last month. The concert was boring and John wished [ at that time ] that the concert had been over / finished soon. And now he's narrating this memory to someone else now. How should we say it?

    John: You know Kate, last month I went to a concert with some friends of mine, but It was not my cup of tea and it was so boring. I wished that it would be over soon.

    Or, I wished that it'd been over soon. ?

    How nice it would be if grammatical point was explained.

  2. #2
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: How to use "wish" in this context?

    The first. He wished, at the time, that it would soon be over.

    The second would be appropriate if the back-story were different. John's last train was at 11.00; the show finished at 11.05. He says to Kate 'I wished that it'd been over sooner.' In this case note that the "it'd" expands to 'it had' and not 'it would'. To have an 'it'd' that expands to 'it would', the context would have to change again. John explains about his train, and Kate says 'It'd have been better if the show had ended sooner'.

    b

  3. #3
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    CarloSsS is offline Senior Member
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    Re: How to use "wish" in this context?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    The first. He wished, at the time, that it would soon be over.

    The second would be appropriate if the back-story were different. John's last train was at 11.00; the show finished at 11.05. He says to Kate 'I wished that it'd been over sooner.' In this case note that the "it'd" expands to 'it had' and not 'it would'. To have an 'it'd' that expands to 'it would', the context would have to change again. John explains about his train, and Kate says 'It'd have been better if the show had ended sooner'.

    b
    I was wondering, my university teacher taught us that the sequence of tenses doesn't apply to wish clauses. So I'm puzzled at what BobK wrote.
    This sentence: 'I wished that it'd been over sooner.' should be wrong considering that you don't have to change tenses in wish clauses in narrating.
    To illustrate this, let's say that Jon's at the concert right now and his train is due any time now, but he can't leave the concert and he thinks:
    I wish the concert WAS over. (meaning that he likes the concert, but he wants to catch his train)
    To my understanding this should be all right. Is that so?

    Now, he tells about the concert to his friend Kate:
    You know Kate, last month I went to a concert with some friends of mine, but it was pretty late and I wanted to catch my train. I wished that it WAS over soon [so that I could catch my train].
    Is that correct?
    Normally, I would let it go, but this post I caught my eye because I sentence like this was one question in a test we had to pass in order to pass a university course. So if I'm wrong, then the teacher was wrong too and such an elementary mistake should not be made by a university teacher.

  4. #4
    billmcd is offline Key Member
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    Re: How to use "wish" in this context?

    Quote Originally Posted by CarloSsS View Post
    I was wondering, my university teacher taught us that the sequence of tenses doesn't apply to wish clauses. So I'm puzzled at what BobK wrote.
    This sentence: 'I wished that it'd been over sooner.' should be wrong considering that you don't have to change tenses in wish clauses in narrating.
    To illustrate this, let's say that Jon's at the concert right now and his train is due any time now, but he can't leave the concert and he thinks:
    I wish the concert WAS over. (meaning that he likes the concert, but he wants to catch his train)
    To my understanding this should be all right. Is that so?

    Now, he tells about the concert to his friend Kate:
    You know Kate, last month I went to a concert with some friends of mine, but it was pretty late and I wanted to catch my train. I wished that it WAS over soon [so that I could catch my train].
    Is that correct?
    Normally, I would let it go, but this post I caught my eye because I sentence like this was one question in a test we had to pass in order to pass a university course. So if I'm wrong, then the teacher was wrong too and such an elementary mistake should not be made by a university teacher.
    Everyone makes mistakes and don't forget "sooner". This was the easy part. How to present it to your teacher will be more difficult.

  5. #5
    Whoknows is offline Newbie
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    Re: How to use "wish" in this context?

    I realize you are discussing the tense of the verb " wish" but it seems to me to be correct, you must use the subjunctive "were " not " was" after the verb "wish". I wish the concert were over so i could catch my train. The concert is NOT over. Therefore the subjunctive is needed.

  6. #6
    CarloSsS's Avatar
    CarloSsS is offline Senior Member
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    Re: How to use "wish" in this context?

    Maybe my post was a bit too chaotic. Or the example I used was not exactly illustrative so I'll try it again.
    Let's say that it's the morning and I have to go to school but it's cold outside and I hate it when I have to go outside when it's cold. So I'd say to my roommate:
    "I wish I didn't have to go to school toady."

    Then, say two days later, I would tell him that I in the end I liked walking outside even though it was cold. What would he answer?
    "And you said that you wished you didn't have to go to school." - no sequence of tenses applied (according to my teacher that's the only correct version)
    or
    "And you said that you wished you hadn't had to go to school" - sequence of tenses applied
    Which one is correct?
    Last edited by CarloSsS; 23-Sep-2011 at 17:54.

  7. #7
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: How to use "wish" in this context?

    The latter. What sort of English was the teacher teaching?

    b

  8. #8
    5jj's Avatar
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    Re: How to use "wish" in this context?

    Quote Originally Posted by Whoknows View Post
    I realize you are discussing the tense of the verb " wish" but it seems to me to be correct, you must use the subjunctive "were " not " was" after the verb "wish". I wish the concert were over so i could catch my train. The concert is NOT over. Therefore the subjunctive is needed.
    In normal conversation, the subjunctive is optional in BrE these days.

  9. #9
    CarloSsS's Avatar
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    Re: How to use "wish" in this context?

    Really? That's hard to grasp for me. I thought he knew that kind of stuff with absolute certainty. I know that everybody makes mistakes, but he is some English enthusiast. He's got an MSc in teaching English, also passed CPE exam (grade A). He's been something like a English language God to me.
    He teaches American English, but we can choose which form we prefer and use it. What's more, he always tells us if something is a matter of British or American English.
    Here is a snippet from a textbook he wrote:

    I wish I were an angel. --
    -- He said he wished HE WERE an angel.

    No change in tense is applied here:

    He said he wished he had been an angel.
    By the way, he says that this "no change in tense" applies to all subjunctive clauses like:
    I'd rather she asked someone else.
    It's time we left
    She acts as if she didn't know him.
    What if we stayed here?
    If they didn't have kids, they would break up.

    Is that wrong too?
    Last edited by CarloSsS; 23-Sep-2011 at 19:02.

  10. #10
    Rezafo's Avatar
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    Re: How to use "wish" in this context?

    Thanks to all of you for spending time and answering my question. From different replies and comments which I got them all from different forums, I realize that native speakers wouldn't use a "wish sentence" in the situation I made as an example.

    They told me we most probably put it in this way;

    I couldn't wait for the concert to be over sooner,
    or
    using a wish in this way: I sat there wishing that the concert come to an end sooner!

    But, knowing how to use wish in this way; narrating a wish sentence which has been said in the past, is worth considering and discussing.

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