I wish I would have been there

Is this sentence grammatically correct? If so, which tense is it?

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  • It is indeed correct – Maryam Mar 13 at 6:59
  • 2
    It is not something I would ever use, but it is a construction which has become more common over the last few decades. I would say "I wish I had been there". – Colin Fine Mar 13 at 11:32
  • 1
    "Would have been" for "had been" is definitely non standard, North American dialect. Should not be seen in any kind of formal writing, (or, in my opinion, at all). – Michael Harvey Mar 13 at 14:50

There are two answers to this question, as the comments make clear.

Do people use this construction? Yes they do. They seem to use it to mean the pluperfect tense:

I wish I had been there.

But it is technically not pluperfect. In so far as it is anything, it might be considered modal perfect and (sort of, not really) conditional.

So should you use it? Probably not.

If you take it at face value, the sentence makes no logical sense. You can wish something concrete had happened, but you can't logically wish you would have done something. If you would have done it, you could and should have. For that reason 'could' and 'should' both work in the context, but would doesn't.

Avoiding pedantry about grammar is one thing. If enough people say something, it stops being a mistake. But if you are learning English and want to be able speak it confidently and articulately, I would avoid this construction.

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