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Thread: I wish I were/was there

  1. #1
    herman Guest

    Default I wish I were/was there

    Which is grammatically correct and why:

    I wish I were there.

    OR

    I wish I was there.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: I wish I were/was there

    Quote Originally Posted by herman
    Which is grammatically correct and why:

    I wish I were there.

    OR

    I wish I was there.
    The correct form is,
    - I wish I were there.

    You use this form to show an "unreal" situation, i.e. the thing you are wishing for is not the way things really are.

    You may sometimes hear "was" used, since the subjunctive is relatively uncommon in English and people sometimes forget to use it, but "were" is definitely the correct verb.
    ---- Pete

  3. #3
    herman Guest

    Default

    Does the timeframe of the event have any impact on thre were/was? ie an event that already happened and is now in the past, compared to an event that is currently happening. It sounds to me like was would be used for a past event and were for an ongoing event?

  4. #4
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by herman
    Does the timeframe of the event have any impact on thre were/was? ie an event that already happened and is now in the past, compared to an event that is currently happening. It sounds to me like was would be used for a past event and were for an ongoing event?
    I don't think so. After "I wish", you seem to "back shift" the tense. To refer to a past situation, you use the past perfect:
    - I wish I had been there.
    ---- Pete

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by herman
    Which is grammatically correct and why:

    I wish I were there.

    OR

    I wish I was there.
    Both are grammatically correct and both are in common use. Using 'was' for subjunctive like constructions has been a norm for hundreds of years.

    In modern English, we don't need to use subjunctive forms to express a counterfactual, the only thing we need is a past tense form.

    1. "I wish I was there"

    means the same thing as

    2. "I wish I were there".

    They both entail that " 'I' am not there".


    Quote Originally Posted by herman
    Does the timeframe of the event have any impact on thre were/was? ie an event that already happened and is now in the past, compared to an event that is currently happening. It sounds to me like was would be used for a past event and were for an ongoing event?
    This has long been the argument to suggest that "If S was ..." is wrong, Herman. Sometimes, the meaning does actually point to something finished but that type of 'If' conditional is a different 'If' conditional from the ones that state counterfactuality.

    3. If he was at the party, then I must be blind.

    This is 'was' operating in its role as an indicative.

    4. If I was you, I'd rethink this.

    Here every native speaker of English knows that #4 is a counterfactual 'If' conditional. It does not have the same meaning as #3. It means the same as, "If I were you, I'd rethink this".

    Subjunctives are remnants of older forms of English. There is nothing magic about them. Most of the subjunctive forms found in older forms of English have had their roles replaced by other structures.

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