In the sentences below, would it be correct to use Past Simple instead of Past Perfect and retain the same meaning? Is it possible, for example, in American English because, as far as I know, Americans are known to rarely use Perfect tenses?

  1. I wish he had let me know that he was coming.
  2. I wish now I hadn't splashed out so much money on that car.
  • 1
    As far as I know, Americans use perfect tenses when it makes sense to use perfect tenses — I had not heard otherwise. You shouldn't go out of your way to use a perfect tense, but you shouldn't go out of your way to avoid it, either.
    – J.R.
    Oct 11, 2018 at 16:16
  • splashed out is not a money idiom, fyi. Otherwise, no, past simple would not be grammatical here at all in AmE or any other standard English. Your tenses are right.
    – Lambie
    Oct 11, 2018 at 16:54
  • @Lambie I just assumed it was another weird Britishism. Actually, apparently it is
    – Andrew
    Oct 11, 2018 at 17:13
  • @Andrew Okay, good. In AmE, we'd say: throw money at.....but I like that splash, now....:)
    – Lambie
    Oct 11, 2018 at 17:14

1 Answer 1


I think Americans would use the Past Perfect in the given sentences, just like Britons or any other English speakers would. Otherwise, the meaning of the sentences would be changed.

We use wish with the Past Perfect when we have regrets about the past:

I wish I hadn't taken your advice. (but I did)

I wish I had known you then. (but I didn't)

I wish he had let me know that he was coming. (but he didn't)

I wish I hadn't splashed out on that car. (but I did)

We use wish with the Past Simple or Continuous to express regret about present situations:

I wish I was taller. (but I'm not)

I wish I was going on holiday with you. (but I'm not)

I wish you were more help. (but you are not)

Both of your sentences are about regrets about the past. So, it wouldn't be correct to use the Past Simple instead of the Past Perfect.

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