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

or

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

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25 thoughts on “Weekly Writing Challenge – I wish I were good at Grammar!!!

  1. Pingback: {Weekly Writing Challenge} I wish I were… | The Blog Farm - A Growing Blog Community

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  5. It is an interesting quandary — were vs. was under the “I wish I . . . ” circumstances. The grammar police may take issue with my post — I will have to respond with “it’s the thought that counts” :-)! ~ Kat

  6. Grammar has been and always will be muddy for me. But I enjoyed reading your explanation anyway. I think I’m cured of wanting to write a post for “I wish I were.” I’ll try the next one which should be easier.

  7. What a funny post! Thank you so much for sharing… and I loved the pics that go with it… I guess all of us wish we were better at using proper grammar… Should we all begin following the rules? 😮 It’s dangerous! Thanks again!

  8. English was one of my worst subjects in school and ‘I wish I were better at writing’. Thanks to spell check I do ok, unfortunately it does not always catch grammar or the wrong word properly spelled. Loved reading your post and this has made one thing clearer; at least until tomorrow when I will have forgotten.

  9. I enjoyed reading your response. I read the prompt on WordPress and tried to write something but couldn’t figure out whether I should be saying were or was. I’m still confused. Love the Snoopy cartoon at the end of your piece. It says it all.

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