I'm reading about the correct usage of wish-constructions, and my English grammar book says:"Would + infinitive may be found in the subordinate clause only if the subjects in the clauses are different. It makes the wish more emphatic. The use of "would + infinitive" often implies that you want a situation to change and you talk about things that annoy you". As an illustrative example the book gives this:

I wish it would stop raining. It rains all the time.

But I have several questions regarding it.

  1. The book says that "would" in wish-constructions is put in subordinate clauses if a person is annoyed by something. However, it writes "often implies" but not "always implies". So I'd like to know if "would" can be used in wish-constructions when a person isn't annoyed.

  2. Also, I'm puzzled with the second sentence of the example( "It rains all the time"). They first wrote about annoyance, but put a form of Present Simple. Wouldn't it be more logical if they wrote the second sentence in emotional Present Continuous instead of Present Simple ("It's raining all the time), so that it can express a stronger emotion?

  3. Finally, I would like to clear up another thing. What if I ommit "would" and formulate the sentence in a different way: "I wish it stopped raining."Will it be correct from the point of view of grammar?

  • As for #2, "more logical" is not an attribute that seems very important to English, especially in the context of making something more emotional, but I don't think that either construction (PS vs PC) is inherently more capable of expressing emotion.
    – Robusto
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 21:03

1 Answer 1

  1. Being annoyed is not the only matter justifying this construction. However, it seems that all states of mind are akin to the notion of an undesirable situation or of a more desirable one. Here are few possibilities I believe to be relevant.
  • (annoyance) I wish it would stop raining. It rains all the time.
  • (ruefulness) He wishes they would be back in the old days when they had time to play.
  • (perversion) I wish he would fall into the water after the first two steps on his rotten wire.
  • (plain desire) I wish we would finish this job in time but I'm afraid we won't.
                              Then I wish we would be the richest family in the world . (ref.)
  1. In this context the simple present has to be understood as what is called a state present, here used to express unchanging situations (ref.); therefore, of the present continuous or the state present either one of the two is right. You might prefer the present continuous and use it just as well.

  2. This would be another way to say the same thing. It is used in the written part of the language (ngram, ref.)

  • I wish it stopped there. But it doesn't. This kind of partiality and mass failure to confront corruption within the ranks of the legal community is no accident; it is clearly understood by those involved. ]udges and attorneys often play dumb and will ...(ref.)

ACGOTEL, 14.23 n [f] In subordinate clauses following "I wish (that)" the hypothetical past may be replaced by hypothetical "would" or by a to-infinitive.
I wish [she visited/she would visit/her to visit] me more often.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.