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  1. #1
    suprunp's Avatar
    suprunp is offline Senior Member
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      • Student or Learner
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    Default I wish I could tell him--I wish I could have told him

    He [the art teacher] was not that much older than I was
    He had taken our class to the Metropolitan Museum
    He asked us what our favorite work of art was,
    But never could I tell it was him
    Oh, I wish I could tell him --
    Oh, I wish I could have told him

    (Rufus Wainwright; The Art Teacher (a song))

    Does 'I wish I could tell him' have some specific purpose here (maybe it suggests that there is still a possibility of telling him?), because, in my humble opinion, the author surely means 'I wish I could have told him'?
    (I'm fully aware that songs can't be always a reliable source of the English language)


    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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      • Retired English Teacher
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    Default Re: I wish I could tell him--I wish I could have told him

    'I wish I could tell him' - you might still get the chance to tell him.

    'I wish I could have told him' - it's too late; you'll never get the chance now.

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