I was watching a TV show, and this girl said:

I just wish that once, I'd bring a guy home that they actually liked.

Shouldn't it be like this? :

I just wish that once, I'd bring a guy home that they actually like.

Didn't she mean 'I wish they'd like my future boyfriends'?

I think this is OK:

I just wish that once, I brought a guy home that they actually liked.

But the way she said it sounds strange to me.

  • Isn't it "Big Bang Theory"? I also thought it sounded weird when I first heard it. But there are a lot of grammatical mistakes in the show. I think liked should be changed to like/will like.
    – user140086
    Oct 16, 2015 at 11:40
  • @Rathony No, it's correct as it stands. Wish takes a backshifted conjecture.
    – tchrist
    Oct 16, 2015 at 11:59
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    @Rathony I cannot see why you think there has to be an object, nor why you think the sentence as written is somehow ungrammatical.
    – tchrist
    Oct 16, 2015 at 12:12
  • 4
  • 2
    @tchrist I know that wish takes a backshifted conjecture (hence the final example) , but not after would.
    – Færd
    Oct 16, 2015 at 12:25

2 Answers 2


The original sentence is correct.

You are correct in your assertion but the sentence also uses the past tense '-ed' to inform us that it has happened before.

i.e. she has brought back a guy home more than once and her parents did not like them and she wishes they they would for once.

  • 2
    This isn't quite right. What’s happening is that backshifting is being used in liked because wish takes a hypothetical conjecture, so it has to be in the past tense. There is no definitive implication of repetition or previous occurrence.
    – tchrist
    Oct 16, 2015 at 11:58
  • @tchrist sounds right to me. Oct 16, 2015 at 16:28

In a comedy show, sometimes grammatical principles are not strictly followed to make people laugh.

The sentence would be clearer if rephrased to:

If (once) I'd bring a guy home, I just wish that they actually liked him.

I just wish that once, I'd bring a guy home that they actually liked.

Here, that seems to be used as a "relative pronoun" as the object of the verb liked is missing. However, it is not difficult to understand that liked is backshifted in a I wish construction which uses a subjunctive mood.

  • Shouldn't "that" be replaced with "who" since we're talking about a person? Oct 16, 2015 at 16:38
  • @michael_timofeev That can be used in place of who / which that are objective and subjective relative pronouns except for a few cases, one of which is when "preposition" is used before whom/which. You can't use that after of.
    – user140086
    Oct 16, 2015 at 16:42
  • I dunno...the sentence in yellow seems kinda fishy... Oct 16, 2015 at 16:42
  • Ok but then shouldn't who be whom? Oct 16, 2015 at 16:44
  • In other words, whom becomes the object of liked... Oct 16, 2015 at 16:48

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