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    #1

    Wish

    Are these sentences correct?

    I wish I didn't have to work
    I wish I had lots of money
    I wish I was able to retire now.

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    #2

    Re: Wish

    They are fine, though a purist would prefer were in place of was in the third.

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    #3

    Re: Wish

    Quote Originally Posted by thomas615 View Post
    I wish I was able to retire now.

    NOT A TEACHER

    (1) If you say "I wish (that) I were able to retire now," I think that at least four things will happen:

    (a) You will make your teachers very happy.

    (b) Your parents will be very happy to know that you are receiving a quality education.

    (c) If you and another person are competing for the same job, quite possibly the manager may favor you if you use the subjunctive "were," and the other applicant uses the indicative "was."

    (d) You will make a good impression on native speakers of English. And that could help you in the business world.

    (2) All things considered, I respectfully suggest that you use the subjunctive. When you get time, please check some books, the Internet, or the search box at this website for information concerning the subjunctive. Americans still prefer the subjunctive. I hear that our British friends are now beginning to use the subjunctive a little more than in the past because American English is slowly but surely charming its way into British English.

    These are only my opinions.

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    #4

    Re: Wish

    I am afraid that I have to disagree with TheParser on this.
    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    (1) If you say "I wish (that) I were able to retire now," I think that at least four things will happen:

    (a) You will make your teachers very happy.
    Many younger British teachers use 'was', and would not be impressed if you used 'were'. Some might even think it old-fashioned.

    (b) Your parents will be very happy to know that you are receiving a quality education.
    Many parents in Britain would not care at all about this use of 'were'

    (c) If you and another person are competing for the same job, quite possibly the manager may favor you if you use the subjunctive "were," and the other applicant uses the indicative "was."
    I think that is highly unlikely in Britain.

    (d) You will make a good impression on native speakers of English. And that could help you in the business world.
    Most speakers of BrE just do not care about this.


    (2) All things considered, I respectfully suggest that you use the subjunctive.
    I suggest that you don't worry about it. If you have been taught to use the subjunctive 'were', then continue using it. However, if you don't know about this, then do not worry. Many speakers of BrE do not use it, so it is a waste of time for learners to spend time on it, in my opinion.
    [...] Americans still prefer the subjunctive. I hear that our British friends are now beginning to use the subjunctive a little more than in the past [...].
    It is true that Americans use the subjunctive far more than most speakers of BrE. It is possible that the present subjunctive, virtually dead for most speakers of BrE forty years ago is perhaps marginally less rare today, but learners have far more pressing things to think about than this.
    I am not alone in my thoughts:

    “In popular and non-formal speech and writing, the were-subjunctive is often replaced by the indicative was, which brings this verb into line with other verbs, where the past tense is similarly used for hypothesis about the present and future […]. Were is, however, widely preferred in If I were you.
    Sylvia Chalker in McArthur, Tom (1992) The Oxford Companion to the English Language, Oxford: OUP.

    “In most informal contexts, indicative forms of be are preferred, except for the semi-fixed expression if I were you.
    Carter, Ronald & McCarthy, Michael (2006) Cambridge Grammar of English, Cambridge: CUP

    Although sentences of the type [If I were you, I’d leave him] continue to be used, there is increasing use of was instead of were in these types of sentences in contemporary spoken English.”
    Yule, George (1998) Explaining English Grammar, Oxford: OUP

    “The Past Subjunctive […] survives as a form distinct from the ordinary Indicative Past Tense only in the use of were, the Past Tense form of the verb to be with a singular subject […]. Like the Present Subjunctive, this is nowadays fairly infrequent, and is often replaced by Past Indicative was
    The Subjunctive singular were, however, still prevails in more formal style, and in the familiar phrase If I were you ….
    Leech, Geoffrey, (2004) Meaning and the English Verb. 3rd edn, Harlow, Pearson Longman,

    […] especially in informal English. When we are talking about an unlikely situation, you use the simple past tense in the conditional clause, and ‘would’, ‘should’ or ‘might’ in the main clause. […]
    I should be surprised if it was less than five pounds.
    Sinclair, John (Editor-in-Chief), (1990) Collins Cobuild English Grammar, London: HarperCollins


    The main use of irrealis were is in subordinate construction where the preterite of other verbs has the modal remoteness meaning – remote conditionals […] and the complement of wish, would rather, etc. Preterite was, however, is very widely used instead of irrealis were in these constructions, especially in informal style […].
    Was
    has been in competition with were for 300-400 years, and in general the usage manuals regard it as acceptable, though less formal than were. […] if I were you bears some resemblance to a fixed phrase, and was is less usual here than in conditionals generally.”
    Huddleston, Rodney & Pullum, Geoffrey K (2002) The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, Cambridge: CUP

    […] the true subjunctive form is dead in English. It survives in a few main sentences of wish or desire like “God save the King” […] .
    Were
    as the past singular subjunctive form has held out a little more tenaciously, partly because in the stereotyped phrase “If I were you” the complement you has by attraction tended to establish it […] In the following sentence, for example, our modern tendency would be to turn the subjunctive were into a blunt indicative:
    It is high time the wide field of Tudor music, both secular and sacred, were explored by many more schools
    .”
    Vallins, G H, (1951) Good English, London: Pan


    The subjunctive mood is in its death throes, and the best thing to do is put it out of its misery as soon as possible.”
    Maugham, WS (1949) A Writer’s Notebook, Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

    Last edited by 5jj; 26-Oct-2011 at 22:44. Reason: Spacing reduced

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    #5

    Re: Wish

    With all due respect to TheParser, I fear that a great many teachers, parents, prospective employers and native speakers of English will consider you to be wrong if say 'I wish I were....'

    The subjunctive is little used or understood by the majority of BE speakers.

    Rover

    EDIT: 5jj said that more eloquently and at greater length than I did. At least we agree.

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    #6

    Re: Wish

    [QUOTE=5jj;815981]

    The subjunctive mood is in its death throes, and the best thing to do is put it out of its misery as soon as possible.”

    Maugham, WS (1949) A Writer’s Notebook, Garden City, NY: Doubleday.


    NOT A TEACHER


    Pace dear Mr. Maugham, here in the United States of America, the subjunctive

    still rocks!

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    #7

    Re: Wish

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    Pace dear Mr. Maugham, here in the United States of America, the subjunctive still rocks!
    Both Rover and I made it clear that we were speaking about British English.

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    #8

    Re: Wish

    [QUOTE=Rover_KE;815988]

    The subjunctive is little used or understood by the majority of BE speakers.

    NOT A TEACHER


    I have read that our dear British friends are starting to slowly adopt a few American

    spellings. So maybe there's hope for the subjunctive, too.

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    #9

    Re: Wish

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Both Rover and I made it clear that we were speaking about British English.
    But Mr. Maugham didn't.

    Cool new user name, 5jj. I'm sure your students are happy that you've returned to teaching.

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    #10

    Re: Wish

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    But Mr. Maugham didn't.
    In his day, the only English worthy of study was English English. Ah those were the days.

    Cool new user name, 5jj. Thanks. I thought it was time to slim down a little.

    I'm sure your students are happy that you've returned to teaching.
    I am sure that speakers of some languages could use a subjunctive form for that underlined verb to make the 'sure' a little less certain.

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