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Do you find this construction acceptable?

1) I wish that you find a magic sword for me. (A queen's desire)

2) I wish that he bring me a new book. (from regular life)

I think that they mean: I want you to find... and I want him to bring...

However, some native speakers express a concern in regard to the correctness and idiomaticity of the two. I know that:

3) "I hope you find a magic sword for me." sounds correct. But it seems to me that 1) and 3) don't mean the same though they express alike ideas. What would you say?

  • This seems to be the difference between wish and hope- please share what you find for the dictionary definitions for these words and what you find confusing in them. – Jim Nov 10 '14 at 21:13
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    Incidentally what I like least about these sentences is the "I wish that you find" I'd prefer either, "I wish that you would find" or "I wish for you to find" or "I wish you to find" – Jim Nov 10 '14 at 21:16
  • According to ElDynamite "I wish that you find" is an order. "I wish you would find" - is a wish. But I would prefer "I wish you could find". – user1425 Nov 11 '14 at 5:58
  • Yes, and "I wish for you to" and "I wish you to" are better orders... I wish you could find implies the speaker doesn't think it's really possible for it to be found. – Jim Nov 11 '14 at 7:39
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In my experience, "wish" is no longer used commonly as it is used in your first two sentences.

Merriam-Webster gives this as one of its definitions:

to request in the form of a wish : order

The first sentence is clearly expressing an order. It is not so much "I want you to find it" as "Find it". This use of wish is in my opinion rather rare, although I would not look twice if I found it in Shakespeare. Today we would more likely simply use a command form.

**For clarification on that: If anyone said "I wish that you find me a magic sword", I would consider it wrong, because we do not use "wish" as a command in modern speech.

I would see the second sentence as problematic simply because it omits "would" (or "could"). Typically, if one wants to express a desire or wish with the verb "wish", as your second sentence, it is written like so:

I wish that he would bring me a new book.

I wish I could do it over.

(In a counterfactual clause, one uses the past subjunctive, which is the same as the past tense except for to be: "I wish I were Steve Jobs.")

I'm not sure about the grammatical accuracy of "I wish he bring me a new book", but regardless, it sounds off and I wouldn't recommend it.

The difference between 1) and 3) is that in 1), wish is used not as an expression of hope, but as a command, as the dictionary definition I previously presented.

These, however, are approximately the same, when "wish" is used with "would" to express hope:

I hope [that] you find me a magic sword.

I wish [that] you would find me a magic sword.

Depending on context, "hope" may express more "realistic-ness" than "wish", when used to express a desire or wish. For example:

I hope [that] I get the job at McDonalds.

I wish [that] they would make me CEO of all the food chains in the world.

"that" is omittable in all these sentences.

  • How would you classify this one? "Dear God, please, please, I wish there to be a circus in my back yard tomorrow afternoon". - Request? = Want? – user1425 Nov 10 '14 at 21:35
  • the use of "please" makes it pretty clear that it's a request. :-) – Hellion Nov 11 '14 at 22:58
  • It could be anything, really, because the kid could be asking God to create the circus, or he could simply be divulging his hopes. For example, "Bro, I wish that Joe would stop sulking" and "Bro, I wish that you would stop sulking" are expressions of hope, but "Bro, I wish that Joe stop sulking" is an entreaty for Bro to do something, and "Bro, I wish that you stop sulking" is a command (not used modernly). "I wish there to be" is usually a mix of entreaty and hope as used today, but it could be an order in older usage. – ElDynamite Nov 11 '14 at 23:06
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For your two examples, "wish" is a bit archaic. These are my suggestions using example one:

For requests:
I would like you to find a magic sword for me.
I want you to find a magic sword for me.
Get me a magic sword for me.


For desires:
I wish you'd find a magic sword for me.
I'd like it if you'd find a magic sword for me.

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