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ESL forum > Ask for help > unreal past    

unreal past


unreal past
Hello fellow teachers,
Could you please explain the difference, if there is any, between these sentences:
1. I wish he stopped ringing.
2. I wish he would stop ringing. 
             Thanks a lot 

10 Feb 2016      

United States

I can t currently think of a situation where I would say "I wish he stopped ringing".
As I see it, it would have to be past perfect (had stopped) for the past or your option #2 for the present/future.

10 Feb 2016     

United Kingdom

I agree with Douglas.
Btw - What I see more and more nowadays - instead of I wish he had stopped ringing, is I wish he would have stopped ringing. Yuck, what a messy construction. Is it American?

10 Feb 2016     


Thanks a lot , dear colleagues. Can I then say the following for present wishes:
1. If the subjects are different:
stative verbs:  We use past simple
action verbs:  We use would or past continuous according to the meaning

2. If the subjects are the same:
stative verbs: We use past simple
action verbs: We use could or past continuous according to the meaning?


10 Feb 2016     


Ruwayda37, in many cases your rule might work, but not always. Let s take an action verb speak. I wish you spoke Italian and I wish you would speak Italian are both OK, although they are not the same. The former means that you can t speak the language and I wish you could. The latter implies that you can speak Italian and I I want you to speak Italian now. So, it seems that the use of would focuses on the present moment or the future, while past simple focuses on the present in general, a general situation in the present that you d like to change or be different.

10 Feb 2016     


Thanks a lot for your clarification.

10 Feb 2016