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Please look at the following

1) I wish you could have come to the party

There's a friend of mine who couldn't come to the party and I am now discussing with him about that and wishing. So can I use the sentence #1 for the following two scenarios?

a) I know you couldn't come to the party.-----I wish you could have come.

b) I know you couldn't have come.---------I wish you could have come.

Is the usage of sentence #1 for the above two scenarios right? If not, then please tell me what sentence must be used for both #a and #2? I mean does sentence #1 work for both the scenarios?

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  • Personally, I'd use "I know you weren't able to come to the party" so I don't have to repeat "could".
    – MorganFR
    Jan 25, 2017 at 15:37
  • Do you realise that (a) differs from (b) in that (a) implies that you would have gone to the party (but something prevented you), whereas (b) simply implies that I know it's not feasible that you went to the party (possibly because I know that nobody even told you about it, so you weren't aware of being "prevented" from going at all). Jan 25, 2017 at 15:42
  • ...personally, I don't think English has any simple and natural way of expressing the two different nuances of I wish what I know had been otherwise as they relate to the two examples. The distinction is simply too subtle to warrant special disambiguating constructions. Jan 25, 2017 at 15:46

1 Answer 1

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I wish you could have come to the party.

I'm sorry you could not come to (attend*) the party.

Both acknowledge that (for whatever reason) you wish they could come and you are sorry they missed it.

(*attend means 'come to' or 'be present at')

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