This is from a song by Police, Darkness:

"I can dream up schemes when I'm sitting in my seat
I don't see any flaws 'til I get to my feet
I wish I never woke up this morning
Life was easy when it was boring"

Shouldn't it be, according to www.eslbase.com, "I wish I havn't hadn't woken up this morning"? (though I agree the latter flows worse)

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    For some reason I am reminded of the lyrics: Wish I knew what you were looking for Might have known what you would find
    – Robert S.
    Commented Aug 11, 2011 at 13:58

4 Answers 4


Strictly speaking, by the rules of grammar, it should be

I wish I'd never woken up this morning.

But if you Google "I wish I never" you find that lots of people use constructions like

I wish I never woke up this morning.

For example:

I wish I never told you,
I wish I never met you,
I wish I never ever got drunk that night.

So, while strictly speaking this should probably be called bad grammar, it is nevertheless a quite common usage.


It should be I wish I'd never woken up this morning, but Sting usually sings in a fairly "clipped" manner, so he'd naturally drop the 'd and n. It helps the song sound "streetwise".

(that's a shortened wish I had not ever.... OP's wish I haven't... is worse than Sting's version).

I don't know if Sting wrote the lyrics, but even if he didn't, I imagine he could have changed it if he wanted. I think he was originally a teacher, so he wouldn't have done it out of ignorance. But I guess we can allow him to be "off-duty" from that when he's working in his second career.

  • right, I meant "had", not "have" Commented Aug 11, 2011 at 1:47
  • "I wish I'd never woken up this morning" fits on two lyrics lines -so he simplified it Commented Aug 11, 2011 at 1:48
  • Do you not have enough rep to edit your incorrect version then? I thought anyone could edit their own question text. Anyway, I really don't think you're going to learn much about the English language by studying popular song lyrics. It's not even a good source of "common speech", let alone "correct or careful speech". Commented Aug 11, 2011 at 2:00
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    Isn't this essentially a UK-US difference? As a UK speaker, I agree that the most common form would be "I wish I'd never...", but as I understand, "I wish I never..." is common US usage. Cf. "Have you ever smoked?" vs "Did you ever smoke?" Commented Aug 11, 2011 at 4:34
  • @Neil Coffey: I don't think it's particularly different either side of the pond. When I said "should be" in my answer, I didn't mean to imply criticism of the wording. But OP seemed to be looking for the nearest equivalent "grammatically impeccable" phrasing, so that's what I tried to provide. Commented Aug 11, 2011 at 15:59

The grammar of wishing is very complex for non-native learners of English, and depends on variables such as if the wish is for the past, present or future and if the wish relates to something the wisher has control over or not.

Using the Sting's example we have:

Past: I wish had never woken up this morning.

Present: I wish I didn't wake up (tired) every morning.

Future: I wish I would not wake up tomorrow. ??

The last wish is more likely to be expressed as a hope:

I hope I don't wake up tomorrow.

(I agree that pop lyrics are an unreliable guide to standard English grammar.)

  • yes but the lyrics are catchy-they stuck in your mind. So it may be worthwhile to analyze as a starting point Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 19:17

The correct sentence should have been "I wish I had never woke up this morning." Using "never" in this sentence would still have been grammatically correct. It's a correct method of negation. But the original sentence is missing had, which is necessarily in this case.

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    but past perfect is had+past participle. The past participle of "wake" is woken, not woke Commented Aug 11, 2011 at 1:45

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