I’ve found this:

We use if only to express a strong wish that things could be different. It means the same as I wish but is stronger. (source)

‘if only’ already refers to ‘I wish’. It means either we use ‘I wish’ or ‘if only’; but, I read in a book a sentence that looked ungrammatical to me. In that sentence ‘wish’ is followed by ‘if only’. Can these two be used together? Can we say:

They wish if only he could support them.

If yes, it means we can say:

I wish if only I could...

If not, then how should the sentence [They wish if only he could support them.] be constructed?

1 Answer 1


"They wish he could support them" is the basic statement expressed. If we add "if only", it seems rather parenthetical, so might appear less awkward if edited thus:

"They wish - if only - he could support them". However, the original sentence, (They wish if only he could support them) doesn't strike me as too egregious. And the use of language in literature may sometimes appear "ungrammatical". As a native English speaker, I've never approached the language from a grammatical perspective. It is what it is.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .