“I Wish I Would Have Known…”

“I wish I would have known…”

Think about this for a moment, friends. It doesn’t matter what the speaker/writer wishes they’d known, because the beginning of the sentence makes the whole thing nonsense.

I see it frequently online and in manuscripts, though.

Would have and had do not mean the same thing, and almost invariably, what the writer should have said was, “I wish I had known.” (Occasionally, “I wish I could have known” is appropriate.)

So why is I wish I would have known nonsense?

Well, let me tell you…

Would is either the past-tense of will or an indication of intention. (Could, on the other hand, is either the past-tense of can or an indication of possibility.) What “I wish I would have known” actually means is that the speaker wishes they had been willing to know.

If you can’t make yourself willing to know something, no one can. 🙂

If you mean you wish you’d known about something sooner, say, “I wish I had known.” If you wish specifically that it had been possible for you to know about it sooner, say, “I wish I could have known.”






About Thomas Weaver

For several years, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom (editor). I'm physically disabled, and I currently live with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have eight cats. I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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2 Responses to “I Wish I Would Have Known…”

  1. curioushart says:

    This is great. Very helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. After reading this, I’m wondering if I’ve been doing this. It’s definitely something I’ll be paying attention to from now on.

    Liked by 1 person

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