What does the author mean? The following sentences are from a book: We use "I wish...would..." to say that we want something happen. But we do not use "I wish...would..."to say how we would like things to be. The above sentences make me confused, because I don't know what's different between"to say that we want something happen" and "to say how we would like things to be." "I wish...would..."

The sentences are on the page 82, beginning at the last sentence 6, from a book named "Englsih grammar in use". The linking of the book:http://0rz.tw/ghfwP

  • It means that you cannot use "to be" with "would" when "would" is used with word "wish".
    – sooeithdk
    Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 3:49
  • I wish my good aunt would be a little less busy! - Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
    – Neil W
    Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 5:00

6 Answers 6


As others have mentioned, "would" is an expression of a hypothetical desire and "wish" is usually for an unlikely or impossible desire.

However, "would" is used to express a wish in the future tense too. In this case, you say you wish something would happen because it hasn't happened yet, but it continues to be possible. This is what's shown in your screenshot example and it's called the "Subjunctive Mood" in English.

University of Washington has some good Subjunctive Mood examples that demonstrate when to use "I wish ___ would ___" in your sentence structure.

When the main clause expresses a wish, you use the past tense of the verb to express the subjunctive mood:

I wish I knew how to proceed. Not: I wish I know how to proceed.

That's natural enough, but when you have a wish sentence in which the verb is a compound constructed with a form of to be, you always use 'were' to communicate a present-tense wish.

I wish I were going. Not: I wish I was going.

If you want to express a past-tense wish, use the past perfect form:

I wish she had invited me. Not: I wish she invited me.
I wish they had hired you. Not: I wish they hired you.

If you want to express a future-tense wish, use would instead of will.

I wish he would arrive on time. Not: I wish he will arrive on time.


1 We use I wish with the past simple to say that we really want a situation to be different:
» I wish it was Saturday.
» I wish I had more money.

2 We use I wish with would + base form to say that we really want somebody's (or something's) behaviour to be different:
» I wish he wouldn't speak so loudly.
» I wish it would snow.


"I wish Sarah were (was) here" doesn't express your desire for things to happen. It means "I am sorry that Sarah is not here." Actually it describes the status of your mind.

"I wish I had a car" means "I am sorry that I don't have a car."

It is quite different from I wish "a subject would" structure.

Hope it helps.


Would is used for imagination (about something that is out of our limit); when we say,"i wish... would...", we just imagine about something or a situation to be different. you can see it in the book: a girl imagining a situation wishing it would stop raining.

Here, would is being used for action and was or were for status. It is just a formal and informal difference; would be just informal whereas were (was is informal)is formal.


As it appears in the book, it is confusing. The author seems to be trying to describe the requirement of a verb following "would." As a modal, "would" is auxiliary to a main verb; even if the main verb does not appear, it is implied.

"I wish she would..." requires another verb, whereas, "I wish she were..." requires only a description.


"to say that we want something to happen" = a possibility of something happening. Example: I wish someone would answer the telephone.

"to say how we would like things to be" = unlikely to happen/hypothetical. Example: I wish someone would buy me a car.

I hope this helps.

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