I have been seeing this use of would in a book I am reading. Although I understand the meaning I don't understand the grammar. Is it the correct use of would? Here is an example of it:

"I would we leave here as soon as we can."

  • What's the book? Using "would" where we now use "want" is an old-fashioned usage. Either it's an old book, or it's using old-fashioned language for some reason.
    – SamBC
    Mar 15 '19 at 21:01
  • It's malazan series. Writer loves this kind of things.
    – user91397
    Mar 15 '19 at 21:12
  • 1
    That explains why it doesn't seem right to me - I just couldn't tell you why. I think I've usually seen it used with a subjunctive - "I would that ..."
    – SamBC
    Mar 15 '19 at 21:15
  • Related question: Starting a sentence with “would that…”
    – ColleenV
    Mar 15 '19 at 21:20
  • I knew the woud that, but i didn't think that these two were the same. Thanks for the answers
    – user91397
    Mar 15 '19 at 21:27

As others have mentioned,

Would that ___ were _____.

Would that it were!

is an largely obsolete way of expressing regret and desire mentioned in more detail here, and I suppose amounts to a sort of odd emphatic subjunctive mood.

Those of us of a certain age (or those of us of 'a certain ilk, stamp or kidney') can remember when such phrases were still common enough to not only be said on pretentious BBC quizzes, but to be lampooned by the great Fry and Laurie, as you can see here.

And for English language learners who are utterly confused by that sketch, you should know that Robert Robertson, possessor of the most epic combover ever seen, was a British television presenter of various highbrow quizzes and word games in the 70s and early 80s, and delighted in such archaic linguistic affectations.

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