As far as I remember, my grammar textbook states that we use 'wish + would' to show annoyance or express complaint about some situation.

I wish you would stop smoking. (it makes me sick)

It also states, if we want to say that we are sorry or regret something, we can use 'wish + V-ed/2'

I wish I lived in London. (but I don't)

Let's say we regret that a certain person smokes, why can't we express it with

I wish you stopped smoking (but you don't) ?

I've tried googling it, but, unfortunately, there's no clear explanation on the topic. Could you, please, help me understand it?


We can use the "I wish I (past tense)" for stative verbs, those that describe an ongoing condition or state of being.

Stopping smoking is a moment in time, so it doesn't work for this construction. I we wanted, we could rephrase it as

I wish you didn't smoke.


I wish you weren't a smoker.

  • 1
    +1, one other example for comparison would be, "I wish you had stopped smoking" (upon the poor person's deathbed due to lung cancer) – Kirk Woll Apr 29 '20 at 0:33

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