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    • Join Date: Aug 2005
    • Posts: 196
    #1

    I wish I knew which one should be used here = "I wish..."

    Hi there,

    A friend of mine asked me yesterday about the following example :

    a) I won't come to your party.

    I wish I could come to your party.

    Why is there "could" ? Shouldn't be there "would" ? Like :

    I wish I would come to your party.

    But I told him that there cannot be "wish and would together when they concern the same subject" ??? But I am myself not sure about it and don't get it. Can someone tell me what's going on here ?

    Best wishes,

    ps. do we say "shouldn't there be..." or rather "shouldn't be there..." ?
    Last edited by forum_mail; 25-Feb-2006 at 15:00.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 57,903
    #2

    Re: I wish I knew which one should be used here = "I wish..."

    I wish I could
    I wish you would


    • Join Date: Aug 2005
    • Posts: 196
    #3

    Re: I wish I knew which one should be used here = "I wish..."

    thanks... but... well... could you give me any rules or an explanation ? because that's what I need...
    Last edited by forum_mail; 25-Feb-2006 at 15:57.

  1. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
    • Posts: 1,552
    #4

    Re: I wish I knew which one should be used here = "I wish..."

    When you say "I wish I could", you mean that you are somehow hindered from coming. I really do want to come -- honestly, your parties are always so much fun -- but something is preventing me: I can't. "Could" is nothing more than the past tense form of "can" and used here to indicate an impossibility.

    If you were to say "I wish I would", remembering that "would" is a past tense form of "will" -- which often indicates determination or a decision -- you'd be saying, in effect: I wish I didn't refuse to come to your party. That doesn't make much sense -- when would you ever want to utter that sentiment?

    In the second person, both forms are possible, but have slightly different meanings. "I wish you could" means "I know you can't, and I wish that wasn't the case". "I wish you would" means "I know damn well you can, you just don't want to make the effort, and I wish that wasn't the case.

    "I wish you would" is often used by exasperated parents: "I wish you would wash behind your ears!" It implies you are scolding someone.

    ***EDITED TO ADD***

    Actually, come to think about it, "I wish you would" is also used, counter-intuitively, to be polite:

    "I wish you would come to my party."

    You're implying here that you know that your parties are not the sort of parties anyone would want to go to: nevertheless, you feel that it would be nice if I would lower my high standards enough to force myself to attend.

    A stereotypical Japanese person might say: "I cannot attend your esteemed party", but "I am inviting you to my humble party". Same thing: politeness is about praising others and deprecating yourself.
    Last edited by rewboss; 26-Feb-2006 at 00:11.

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