In a grammar book I read that I wish + would is mostly used in negative sentences.
My question now is if those expressions are both correct or there is a mistake:
- I wish she had a car.
- I wish she would have a car.
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The problem is that "would" has several meanings, some with slightly overlapping connotations.
a wish or preference, e.g. "Rather than wait for a bus, I think she would [prefer or choose to] take a taxi".
a conditional future, e.g. "If we hired her, she would make a good manager". Here the speaker is simply stating what they think is an expected outcome, conditional only on the job being offered (and in principle, regardless of "her" wishes or choice). So to distinguish between this and the previous meaning, simply add "choose to" after "would/wouldn't" and see whether the result has the desired meaning.
a habitual practice or occurrence, e.g. "I wish her face wouldn't twitch all the time", meaning it is an annoying habit or mannerism "she" often has. Arguably, "would" is ungrammatical when used in this sense and it should be "did/didn't". But it is how people also use the word, perhaps with connotations of the first meaning, i.e. (in this example) as if "her" face had a choice as to when it twitched, and the speaker wished it would choose not to twitch!
edit: The second use, with "would" rather than a simple "will", tends to be used for conjectural situations it is expected or hoped will not occur. For example, if hirers were discussing CVs one being this candidate's, and she may well be hired (depending only on the other candidates), they would probably say "If we hire her, she will make a good manager". But if, say, they were discussing some competent manager already employed by a competitor, and who hadn't applied for the job, they would use the "would" form. Similarly, one could say, "If I dropped this Ming vase on the concrete floor it would smash", i.e. this is a situation in some ghastly fictitious parallel universe which one hopes will not occur!