Weekly Writing Challenge – I wish I were good at Grammar!!!
I wish I were good at grammar. Doesn’t sound right does it? Yet this week’s DP writing challenge asks us to start a story with ‘”I wish I were, NOT, I wish I was” because apparently the first phrase is grammatically correct and invokes the subjunctive mood”. For those of you who are already scratching your heads wondering what the hell I’m talking about let me try to explain. A subjunctive invokes a condition that is doubtful or not factual. So if I said to you “I wish I were on long beach island right now” or “I wish I were Marylin Monroe” this would be the correct use of ‘were’ because it is never going to happen. Other examples would be :-
I wish I were a hummingbird – totally impossible
I wish you were here with me – not gonig to happen!
However, “I wish I was” is also technically correct in its own right. This phrase can be used to express something you desire that is possible now or in the future, for example:-
I wish I was reading my book NOT I wish I were reading my book
I wish I was lying on the beach NOT I wish I were lying on the beach
So let us revisit “I wish I were good at grammar” applying the above rules. This sentence would be correct if there was no hope that I was ever going to improve but “I wish I was good at grammar” would also be correct if I was, say taking English classes and there was a good chance of improvement in the future.
Let me give you another example;
I wish I were freshly pressed – by using this phrase I am indicating that this will happen only in my imagination (also highly unlikely after this post )
I wish I was freshly pressed – I still have hope that one day my article will have what it takes to be worthy.
Confused? Yep me too! But really, at the end of the day does it really matter? Of course punctuation and spelling is important to avoid confusion and mis-information.
But often writing the way people actually talk lends realism and grit to a narrative – I cite Train Spotting as an example.
So to the punctuation police out there, this one is for you:-
Can anyone else shed any light on this subject or have I just muddied the water even more?
Read more posts at Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge: I wish I were