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What’s the best way of presenting the “contents” of my wish if they consist of one desired happening and two more happenings that should precede it?

The desired happening: the “wishee” (the person on whom the “wisher” is bestowing his wish) must find what he wants in his life;

The first happening that should take place prior to that: the “wishee” must reach the full age (the age of 18);

The second happening that should take place before the desired one: the “wishee” must become independent;

1) Should I use a gerund with a relative clause?:

I wish him only one thing – finding what he wants in his life after he has reached the full age and become independent.

2) Or should I use gerunds everywhere?:

I wish him only one thing – finding what he wants in his life after reaching the full age and becoming independent.

3) Or should I use a to-infinitive clause with a relative clause?:

I wish him only one thing – to find what he wants in his life after he has reached the full age and become independent.

4) Or should I use a to-infinitive clause with gerunds?:

I wish him only one thing – to find what he wants in his life after reaching the full age and becoming independent.

5) Or should I use a so-that construction with a relative clause?:

I wish him only one thing – so that (he would find / he finds) what he wants in his life after he has reached the full age and become independent.

6) Or should I use a so-that construction with gerunds?:

I wish him only one thing – so that (he would find / he finds) what he wants in his life after reaching the full age and becoming independent.

7) Or should I use a so-that construction with embedded “having + past participle” construction?:

I wish him only one thing – so that, having reached the full age and become independent, (he would find / he finds) what he wants in his life.

8) Or what?

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  • "the full age" is not idiomatic. Do you mean to say "the age of majority" or "adulthood"?
    – TimR
    Sep 5, 2018 at 12:30
  • "Do you mean to say "the age of majority" or "adulthood"?" - Yes, I meant adulthood. Is "the age of majority" same thing?
    – brilliant
    Sep 5, 2018 at 12:58
  • "the age of majority" is a legalistic phrase and is defined by applicable law. "adulthood" can be either legalistic and precise, or refer in general terms to maturity bur not to a specific age. It's hard to tell from your examples which is appropriate.
    – TimR
    Sep 5, 2018 at 13:03
  • I see. Thank you. I noticed you've dropped that m dash from my sentence and replaced it with a comma. Would dash look kind of weird to an average American reader's eye in my sentence?
    – brilliant
    Sep 5, 2018 at 13:04
  • The rules of punctuation are a more-or-less agreed upon set of typographic conventions, and there is considerable variation. It would be somewhat unusual to use an em-dash to introduce a that-clause, but it's not impossible. Given the register of your sentence, a comma would be better IMO. You could use a colon there, an em-dash, or a comma. A colon would probably seem a little antiquated to some readers.
    – TimR
    Sep 5, 2018 at 13:08

1 Answer 1

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Both of these are idiomatic:

I wish him only one thing, that he find ... when he reaches ... and has become independent

I wish him only one thing, that he finds ... when he reaches ... and has become independent

A speaker of AmE, I would choose the former, that he find (subjunctive). A speaker of BrE might choose the simple present, that he finds.

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  • One more small question: you said, "when he reaches". Does "after he reaches" sound a bit weird to a native English speaker?
    – brilliant
    Sep 6, 2018 at 0:50
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    @brilliant: Many native speakers might say after he reaches in such a context but to my ear when is simpler and better as it does not have the implication of sequence. You are wishing him well in his adult years.
    – TimR
    Sep 6, 2018 at 9:12
  • If you have time, please, check out another question of mine about this same sentence: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/179002/…
    – brilliant
    Sep 7, 2018 at 6:48

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