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    #1

    past subjunctive

    I wish you stopped bothering me when I ask you to.
    I wish you would stop bothering me now.

    The first 'wish' relates to a change in state (being in the habit of not bothering) beginning from the utterance, right?
    The second 'wish' expresses the speaker's need for a change in the course of action denoted by 'bothering', and he wants the change 'now'.

    I wish... is indicative mood. Each VP in the subordinate clause starting with the ellipted conjunction 'that' is in conjunctive (subjunctive) mood. Both verbs in subjunctive mood have past tense forms (past subjunctive). Bearing this in mind, why can't they be used interchangeably in the sentences? Why not 'stopped' in the second sentence too? I was told if and only if you have not immediate control over the happenings may you use 'stopped'. But why? Also, why do I have immediate control in the second sentence but not in the first?

    The answer eludes me. I think I am missing something very obvious.
    Last edited by svartnik; 16-Jul-2009 at 21:06.


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    #2

    Re: past subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by svartnik View Post
    I wish you stopped bothering me when I ask you to.
    I wish you would stop bothering me now.

    The first 'wish' relates to a change in state (being in the habit of not bothering) beginning from the utterance, right?
    The second 'wish' expresses the speaker's need for a change in the course of action denoted by 'bothering', and he wants the change 'now'.

    I wish... is indicative mood. Each VP in the subordinate clause starting with the ellipted conjunction 'that' is in conjunctive (subjunctive) mood. Both verbs in subjunctive mood have past tense forms (past subjunctive). Bearing this in mind, why can't they be used interchangeably in the sentences? Why not 'stopped' in the second sentence too? I was told if and only if you have not immediate control over the happenings may you use 'stopped'. But why? Also, why do I have immediate control in the second sentence but not in the first?

    The answer eludes me. I think I am missing something very obvious.
    I am not sure, but I think you are misapplying the rules to fit the sentence.

    I wish you stopped bothering me when I ask you to.
    I wish you would stop bothering me now.

    It's backwards;
    I wish you had stopped bothering me when I asked you to, because now it is too late to fix the bicycle.

    I wish you would stop bothering me now, in the future, and forever.

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    #3

    Re: past subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by Isabella26 View Post
    I wish you would stop bothering me now, in the future, and forever.
    I wish you stopped bothering me. (X)
    I wish you would stop bothering me now. (O)

    Is I wish you stopped bothering me now acceptable?

    Thanks!!
    Last edited by ptetpe; 19-Jul-2009 at 01:54.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: past subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by svartnik View Post
    I was told if and only if you have not immediate control over the happenings may you use 'stopped'. But why?
    If I was the person who told you this - and I did say something to that effect - I did not use the words "if and only if". This is the sort of misrepresentation that gives teachers a bad name. The teacher gives an example, and the rule-hungry student makes a rule out of it.

    Also, why do I have immediate control in the second sentence but not in the first?
    You don't, and you weren't told this.


    Here’s what I said: (Bits in green are quotations from previous thread)

    In fact you can use "stopped" in the present subjunctive. [I concede that this is called the past subjunctive even though it refers to the present] 'Knowing' is something that you generally don't have immediate control over, so it's natural to say "I wish I knew". Saying "I wish I stopped" makes less sense, usually, because if you really wished it, you would simply stop.
    But, you can't always simply stop, and you can say the following:
    I wish I stopped sneezing so much when he brings me flowers. (I wish I could stop ... )
    I wish I stopped more often at red lights. (I wish I habitually stopped ...)

    So what I actually said was that you cannot use this form for something you have immediate control over, if you intend it to refer to the present; but you can use this form if you intend it to refer to a habitual action.

    "I wish I stopped hitting you now". No. If you really wished it, you'd simply stop. You cannot say this, meaningfully.
    "I wish I stopped hitting you when I got angry" Yes. This refers to habitual and future actions. This is meaningful.

    Note: I did not say you could use the form "I wish I would stop hitting you now". This is just as wrong.

    The 'rule' you inferred seems to be that the subjunctive form should be used in preference to the 'would/modal' form if and only if you don't have immediate control over something - but I wasn't addressing the "would" form.



    If you want to take away a rule, you can infer this: only if the action (such as stopping, which one would normally have immediate control over) refers to something habitual, or in the future, can you use the subjunctive form, "I wish I stopped". You cannot use this form with a 'now' meaning with verbs like 'stop' which you would generally have immediate control over; but you can use this form for things (like being something) which you don't have control over - "I wish I were rich".

    No-where in this rule is the "would/modal" form "I wish I would stop" even mentioned.


    [Note also the above addresses "I wish I ..." but not "I wish you ...". This might or might not be relevant if you want to make a rule out this discussion.]

    So you can also say:
    I wish you stopped bothering me when I ask you to. Note this means I wish you were in the habit of stopping bothering me. So it doesn't mean I wish you would stop bothering me now, for which you cannot say I wish you stopped bothering me.
    )


    I understand that you are now asking why you cannot say "I wish you stopped bothering me" for "I wish you would stop bothering me (now)."

    I’ll try to keep out of this thread any further so you can get some different opinions on the answer to this.
    Last edited by Raymott; 19-Jul-2009 at 02:00.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: past subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by ptetpe View Post
    Is I wish you stopped bothering me now acceptable?

    Thanks!!
    No.

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    #6

    Re: past subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by Isabella26 View Post
    I am not sure, but I think you are misapplying the rules to fit the sentence.

    I wish you stopped bothering me when I ask you to.
    I wish you would stop bothering me now.

    It's backwards;
    I wish you had stopped bothering me when I asked you to, because now it is too late to fix the bicycle.

    I wish you would stop bothering me now, in the future, and forever.
    I agree with this.

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    #7

    Re: past subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    I agree with this.
    He's not asking about the perfect subjunctive, ie. 'I wished you had stopped bothering me' or even "I wish you stopped bothering me when I asked you to".
    I think you are both missing his point.

    Here is how I understand his question:
    1. If you want someone to stop bothering you right now, you say:
    "I wish you would stop bothering me!"
    (Now)

    2. If you want someone to stop bothering you whenever you ask, in the future (Always, starting from now) you can say:
    "I wish you stopped bothering whenever I ask you to" or you can say:
    "I wish you would stop bothering me whenever I ask you to"

    1. uses the "would" form;
    2. can use the past subjunctive (present meaning) or the "would" form.
    Now, assuming you agree with 1. and 2., the question is: Given that there are two ways to express 2. why can't we use the past subjunctive form (present meaning), for the first meaning: "I wish you stopped bothering me!" (now) instead having to say of "I wish you would stop bothering me" (now) ?

    That is, why is the answer to ptetpe's question, "No".

    svartnik can correct this explication of his question if it requires it.

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    #8

    Re: past subjunctive

    1)I wish you stopped bothering me.
    2)I wish you would stop bothering me now.

    In 1) stopped is the past subjunctive of stop, and so 1) is correct. It seems awkward because English has lost a lot of the use of subjunctives which are still very present in, say, Spanish.

    In 2) since 'I wish' sets the scene for a subjunctive, would is the subjunctive.

    To talk about past and present subjunctives is misleading, as they are modalities not tenses. They simply resemble present and past indicative.


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    #9

    Re: past subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by svartnik View Post
    I wish you stopped bothering me when I ask you to.
    I wish you would stop bothering me now.
    Hello guys,

    Raymott, sorry. I should have written "According to the information I received, I derived something by my poor ability for reasoning." Putting words in your mouth was not comme il faut. I was tactless and thoughtless, for which I must appologize. The fact that I did not mention your name may take the edge off your anger and the gravity of my blunder, may it not

    svartnik can correct this explication of his question if it requires it.
    That is not exactly what I meant.

    Now, assuming you agree with 1. and 2., the question is: Given that there are two ways to express 2. why can't we use the past subjunctive form (present meaning), for the first meaning: "I wish you stopped bothering me!" (now) instead having to say of "I wish you would stop bothering me" (now) ?
    I wish you would stop bothering me whenever I ask you to
    The bolded parts I did not mean. I did not know they are correct? What I meant was why the sentences cannot swap verbs.

    If you want to take away a rule, you can infer this: only if the action (such as stopping, which one would normally have immediate control over) refers to something habitual, or in the future, can you use the subjunctive form, "I wish I stopped". You cannot use this form with a 'now' meaning with verbs like 'stop' which you would generally have immediate control over; but you can use this form for things (like being something) which you don't have control over - "I wish I were rich".
    From this part I cannot safely infer "I wish I would be rich" is correct.

    I wish you would stop bothering me whenever I ask you to
    Is it correct? In my opinion, it is. 'Would' is a modal that expresses volition.

    Ray, one more question:

    You can wish that someone would make a decision to do something (volition). You can wish for sy's (your own or someone else's) volition.

    Now, if I say

    I wish you you would slip on a banana skin.

    Is this 'would' there to express volition? What kind of modality does 'would' express?

    Thanks and sorry once more for my tactlessness.
    Last edited by svartnik; 19-Jul-2009 at 10:04.

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    #10

    Cool Re: past subjunctive

    Svartnik, try looking at the whole matter this way:

    [contrary to fact vs refusal]

    It's a pity he won't go. refusal
    I wish he would go. (=but he won't)

    It's a pity he doesn't go out more often. contrary to fact
    I wish he went out more often. (=but he doesn't)

    It's a pity he won't go out more often. refusal
    I wish he would go out more often. (=but he won't)

    It's a pity it rains so much here. contrary to fact
    I wish it didn't rain so much here. (=but it does)

    It's a pity it won't stop raining. refusal
    I wish it would stop raining. (=but it won't)

    It's a pity he doesn't stop bothering me when I ask him to. contrary to fact
    I wish he stopped bothering me when I ask him to. (=but he doesn't)

    It's a pity he won't stop bothering me when I ask him to. refusal
    I wish he would stop bothering me when I ask him to. (=but he won't)

    It's a pity he won't stop bothering me now. refusal
    I wish he would stop bothering me now. (=but he won't)

    So your sentence I wish you would slip on a banana skin is quite abstract to me, unless you want to force someone to slip on a banana skin, but that someone refuses to do so: It's a pity you won't slip on a banana skin.

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