1- When she was younger, Leila wished she .............. faster.

could read - would read - could have read - read 

2- Steinbeck wished people .................... him alone as he hated publicity.

had left - would leave - could leave - left 

I think both sentences express unreal past, so I'd go with "could have read" and "had left"

Original Post
Mr President posted:

1- When she was younger, Leila wished she .............. faster.

could read - would read - could have read - read 

2- Steinbeck wished people .................... him alone as he hated publicity.

had left - would leave - could leave - left 

I think both sentences express unreal past, so I'd go with "could have read" and "had left"

Hi, Mr. P,

What are these questions from? Did you make the sentences up yourself? You've guessed incorrectly for each question.

The answer to (1) is "could read": "When she was younger, Leila wished she could read faster." As you know, "wished" is the past tense form of "wish"; thus, it indicates that the time of the wish is in the past. "Leila wishes she could read faster"; "Leila wished she could read faster." In order for "could have read" to work, the wish would itself have to be about the past -- for example:

  • Leila wishes she could have read faster when she was younger.

The answer to (2) is "would leave," for the same grammatical reason. The time of the wish is in the past. Just as we would say "He wishes people would leave him alone," we also say, "He wished people would leave him alone." Although "had left" is possible whether "wishes" or "wished" is used, that gives a sense that is clearly not intended. The wish does not concern a time previous to the wish.

David, Moderator posted:
Mr President posted:

1- When she was younger, Leila wished she .............. faster.

could read - would read - could have read - read 

2- Steinbeck wished people .................... him alone as he hated publicity.

had left - would leave - could leave - left 

I think both sentences express unreal past, so I'd go with "could have read" and "had left"

Hi, Mr. P,

What are these questions from? Did you make the sentences up yourself? You've guessed incorrectly for each question.

The answer to (1) is "could read": "When she was younger, Leila wished she could read faster." As you know, "wished" is the past tense form of "wish"; thus, it indicates that the time of the wish is in the past. "Leila wishes she could read faster"; "Leila wished she could read faster." In order for "could have read" to work, the wish would itself have to be about the past -- for example:

  • Leila wishes she could have read faster when she was younger.

The answer to (2) is "would leave," for the same grammatical reason. The time of the wish is in the past. Just as we would say "He wishes people would leave him alone," we also say, "He wished people would leave him alone." Although "had left" is possible whether "wishes" or "wished" is used, that gives a sense that is clearly not intended. The wish does not concern a time previous to the wish.

Thanks for your concern but I didn't make up these sentences. This is the text where I have got the second sentence. It is a school book 

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Mr President posted:

Thanks for your concern but I didn't make up these sentences. This is the text where I have got the second sentence.

Yes, Mr. P. One of our members actually shared that text with me in e-mail after you asked your question. Please review our policy on the use of quotations. Whenever you quote something on this forum, you must show that you are quoting it (by using quotation marks or a quote box) and cite the source.

You'll notice that the sentence you asked about is not identical to the sentence in the quotation. "And hated publicity" has been changed to "as he hated publicity." Is it possible that you or whoever inspired you to start a thread about this thought that the sentence would be better with that change?

Whether or not that change was intentional, I am saying that "wished that people had left him alone" would be better phrased as "wished that people would leave him alone." The sentence doesn't mean to be saying that he had a past wish about something further in the past, but that's what it says in spite of itself.

Let me illustrate this with another example. Suppose I am telling you about a time when I couldn't drive through an intersection. At that time, I might have said: "I wish they would let me through the intersection." Similarly, in reporting that past wish, I'd say: "I wished they would let me through."

It would NOT make sense for me to report that wish by saying, "I wished they had let me through the intersection," just as it would NOT have made sense at the time for me to say, "I wish they had let me through the intersection." I mean to be talking about that time, not about some time prior to that time.

On the other hand, I could say in the present, "I wish they had let me through that intersection" -- because their not letting me through the intersection is now in the past. Similarly, in the future, I could refer back to the present (now) and say, "I wished [t0-1] they had let me through the intersection [t0-2]."

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