Which one is correct? And if there are problems, what they are and why?

I wish time would stop now.

I wish time stopped now.


I wish the bus stopped here.

I wish the bus would stop here.

  • What about I wish the bus had stopped here and I wish the bus would have stopped here? Mar 28 '17 at 7:22
  • I wish the bus had stopped here. Not would have stopped here.
    – Lambie
    Feb 16 '18 at 16:32

First things first:

"I wish the bus would have stopped here." (This is not grammatically correct in English although it occurs about as frequently as the use of "was" as the past subjunctive of "to be" when "were" is the correct form.)

It should read:

"I wish the bus had stopped here." ("had stopped" is the past perfect subjunctive.)

Now for the rest:

"I wish the bus would stop here." ("would" replaces the present subjunctive herein: "It is my wish that the bus stop here." Because if the bus [should] stop here, it will cut time off my trip.)

"I wish the bus stopped here." ("stopped" is the past subjunctive of "to stop" herein: "It is my wish that the bus stopped here." Because if the bus stopped here, it would cut time off my trip.)

Both examples are relatively close to the same meaning; however, the first example ("would stop") is used when I want it to happen or insist that it happen and it's possible that it may happen one day, whereas the second one is my stating a simple wish that does not happen now and I know probably either cannot or will not ever happen. "I wish the bus stopped here (but I am pretty sure that it never will stop here)."

"I wish you would just have a good time." (You aren't having a good time and it's ruining my vacation!)

"I wish you had a good time [playing sports]." (You do not have a good time doing whatever, but I wish it were not so.)

"I wish you would be quiet." (Shut your mouth! Your ruining everything!)

"I wish you were quiet." (It's impossible for you to shut your mouth, but hey, I can wish, can't I?)

Other exemplars:

"I wish Mr. Smith taught English." (I know that Mr. Smith will probably never teach English, but hey, I can wish!)

"I wish Mr. Smith would teach English." (I just want Mr. Smith to teach English and I know he could teach it if he wanted to.)

"I wish Mr. Smith had taught English [when I was in school]." (Mr. Smith didn't teach English when I was in school, but I wish (now) that (back then) he had taught it.)


Both are possible, and both have much the same meaning.

would stop and stopped both show changes to the verb which mark or corroborate the unreality or counterfactuality of the statement in tandem with wish (namely, modal would and past-tense stopped): time does not stop, and the bus does not stop there.

  • I can't help thinking OP's "past tense" stopped examples are a form of "poor man's subjunctive". Note that if we discard adverbial here to make the usage more explicitly intransitive I wish the bus stopped, it becomes very hard to think of a credible context where that utterance would be natural. But there's no such problem with subjunctive I wish the bus were to stop [here]. Jan 25 '17 at 15:35
  • ... or gray-market subjunctive. :) The verb changes mark the unreality, the modal being a sort of periphrasis in lieu of a true subjunctive. We cannot discard here because it the bus stops here means "picks up and discharges passengers at this location". Just plain stopped would mean "to cease moving". I wish the bus would stop. I wish the bus had stopped instead of crashing into the window. Jan 25 '17 at 16:05

tricky wicky:

I wish time would stop now. [right]

I wish time stopped when I have to study. [a general statement, simple past is fine.]


I wish the bus stopped here [but it doesn't]. [yes, a general statement]

I wish the bus would stop here [but I know it never will]. [yes, a general statement, less probable than the simple past]]

I wish with the simple past is tricky because it is not a past tense:

I wish he used a simpler approach to explain these things. [a simple wish]

I wish he would use a simpler approach to explain these things but I know that is not possible. [A wish that is less likely than the one with the simple past.]

In a present time, if you are expressing a general wish about some situation, you can use the simple past tense even though the simple past tense does not refer to the past.

The easiest way to understand this is to compare it with the second type of IF conditional:


If he went to school here, I would see him all the time.

I wish he went to school here so I would see him all the time [but he doesn't go to school here].

BUT: I wish he would go to school here, so I could/would see him all the time [but I know he won't so let's forget it]. [This is NOT like the IF example above. Would in first clause, could/would/might in the second clause]

I wish he had gone to school here, so I would have seen him a lot. [This is like a past IF conditional: If he had gone to school, I would see him a lot.]]

  • Wish can take the simple past for a general statement [that is not in the past!]
  • Wish can take the conditional to express something that is even less probable than wish with the simple past. Would in the first clause, would/could/might in the second
  • Wish can take past perfect for a wish related to the past.

This is how the simple present use of wish works.


I wish the bus stopoed here.

I wish the bus would stop here

Both the sentences are grammatical, with a subtle nuance of meaning.

The first sentence means that you want the bus to stop here, but it doesn't happen so.

The second sentence also means that you want it to stop here, but the use of "would" also conveys the sense that you are annoyed or worried that it doesn't stop here.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.