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I know that for present wishes, I can say:

I wish I were young.

However, what if this is my “birthday” wish? Could I say: I wish I would be young.

to express I want this to happen somehow, like magically for example?

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So, by "birthday" wish, I take it you mean similarly to having a genie or a wishing ring - expressing something that might be granted magically. As opposed to "present wish", which from how you phrase it sounds like expressing an idle desire, possibly impossible to fulfil.

In that case, I would probably express it as "I wish to be young". Possibly "I wish to be young again", as one assumes that most people were. Though if I had an actual genie or wishing ring, I'd be a lot more precise with that wish.

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  • I ask specifically to understand how “would” is used here. In the Cambridge dictionary, there is an dxample stating “..candles and wished he would be her boyfriend”
    – John V
    Feb 7, 2019 at 21:02
  • Interesting as an example, because I wouldn't choose to phrase it that way myself. It's not incorrect, of course. It works better there than in your example partly because it is a reasonably normal thing for one person to become another's boyfriend/girlfriend - but mostly because it's in the past. She wished he would be her boyfriend. To move that into the present, it becomes "I wish he will be my boyfriend", which is grammatical. Would in the present tense is used for conditionals, or expressions that have their root in conditionals.
    – SamBC
    Feb 7, 2019 at 21:11
  • Wish + will? I cannot find any evidence that this is grammatical
    – John V
    Feb 7, 2019 at 21:15
  • I'm pretty confident that it's grammatical - just not the way it would be said. Wishes in the present usually use an infinitive. If they use the future, you'd generally put "that" immediately after "wish".
    – SamBC
    Feb 7, 2019 at 21:25
  • Thanks. I can see that “that” is used also with the past tense and can be omitted.
    – John V
    Feb 7, 2019 at 21:37

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