This sentence pertains to a movie I watched:

  1. I wish I watched it with subtitles.
  2. I wish I had watched it with subtitles.

What effect does adding had have on the sentence? Are both sentences correct? Is one form preferred over the other?

  • in this type of sentence the main verbs are in their preterite forms not to mark past time, but because you are talking about a situation contrary to fact (this is the "modal" use of the preterite). the reason the second one is more clear is because the first is ambiguous between a case where you habitually watch the same movie without subtitles (and regret this habit of yours) and one where you watched a movie once in the past without subtitles (and regret this choice). in the second one the auxiliary have indicates that you are dealing with a single, completed action.
    – user31341
    Jan 26, 2014 at 4:04

1 Answer 1


The first example is often used in informal speech.

However, I did not actually watch it with subtitles. Therefore a suggestion that I should have calls for a subjunctive construction.

The second is the preferred grammatical construct, the pluperfect subjunctive.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.