Which is correct "Do you ever wish (that) you had gone to..?" or "Do you ever wish (that) you went to..?"

  • 2
    Either one is grammatically correct. Whether it is correct in your context depends on the specific context. – Kevin Workman Feb 6 '14 at 14:50
  • The specific context is taken from a "Sentence transformation" exercise and is as follows: "Do you ever regret not going to university?"-"Do you ever wish.............?" – Evgeniy Randev Feb 6 '14 at 14:57
  • So...you're asking homework questions? – JohnP Feb 6 '14 at 15:01
  • Exam questions, to be more exact. – Evgeniy Randev Feb 6 '14 at 15:05
  • Great. Recommended reading: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/10811/… – Kevin Workman Feb 6 '14 at 15:09

They're both correct.

I wish I had gone to... seems to imply that you no longer go to... but you did once.

I wish I went to... seems to imply that you wish you went to... now, instead of where you do go.

Not 100% sure, but I think this is past vs perfect past tense.


To understand what I'm saying, try replacing "went to" and "gone to" with attended. They both work. However, the "Had" before "gone to" implies something that is no longer the case. I had a beer, but I drank it.

It's the difference between "I wish I attended school" and "I wish I had attended school".

Consider these:

  • "Do you ever wish you WENT TO (attended) Harvard instead?" - How I would phrase the question to a current Yale Student (Someone who goes to Yale).
  • "Do you ever wish you HAD GONE TO (had attended) Harvard instead." - How I would
    phrase it to a Yale Graduate. (Someone who had gone to Yale, but doesn't).
  • "I attend Yale, but I wish I WENT to Harvard." - How a current Yale
    student might say it.
  • I graduated Yale, but I wish I HAD GONE to Harvard instead. - How a
    Yale Graduate Might say it.

Now try these:

  • "I graduated Yale, but I wish I went to (attended) Harvard." - Sounds weird. You wish you went to Harvard now? Or then? Are you looking for a second education?
  • " I attend Yale, but I wish I had gone to (had attended) Harvard." - You wish you had attended Harvard when? Before going to Yale?

Yes, they are (sometimes) interchangeable, but the meanings do change subtly.

(Also, no offense to Yale graduates - they were just the first two that came to mind. =o)

  • 1
    "I wish I had gone to that party on Saturday" implies that I no longer go to the party, but I once did? I fail to see how you came to this interpretation. – Doc Feb 6 '14 at 16:30
  • Yes, @Doc; 'I wish I had gone to' means you missed the opportunity. And though you may get another one, that one has gone forever. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 6 '14 at 17:25
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth You missed the opportunity yes, but that's my point. Eli suggest that the meaning is that by saying "I wish I had gone to", you suggest that you DID go to the party, but no longer go to it. Whereas "I wish I went to" suggests that you did NOT go to the party, and you wish you were there now instead of where you currently are. I disagree with both interpretations. – Doc Feb 6 '14 at 19:41
  • @Doc I was spelling out the correction you rightly said this answer needs. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 7 '14 at 0:13
  • 1
    +1 for your answer is basically right. "Wish" chews up (requires) a modal preterite in the subordinate clause to indicate modal remoteness; and so, "went to" is probably placing its situation in the present time (kinda) -- while "had gone to" is placing its situation in the past time (or else is using backshifting) as the past-tense of "had" is used for the modal remoteness requirement and the perfect construction can be used for the past time sphere or backshifting. – F.E. Mar 4 '14 at 23:40

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