I wish him to believe it.

What is the exact meaning of this sentence? Does it mean “I wish he believes it”?

1 Answer 1


According to Cambridge, "wish" is synonymous to "want" when followed by a to-infinitive:

When we use wish followed by a verb in the to-infinitive form, wish means the same as want, but it is more formal.

So your sentence basically means "I want him to believe it".

"I wish he believes it" is not grammatical in Standard English and does not have the same meaning as the sentence above.

"Wish" suggests that the proposition expressed is impossible, counterfactual or does not actually happen in real life; "I wish he believed it" presupposes that he does not actually believe it.

This is what Huddleston & Pullum (2002) call the 'irrealis mood' and it has to be marked by the past tense form of verb. So it should be:

I wish he believed it.

  • Got that “I wish he believes me is wrong” . And now I edited it. What about my actual sentence “I wish him to believe it”? Is it wrong too? Jul 5, 2020 at 13:08
  • @ramreja I rolled back the edit because it invalidates my answer. "I wish him to believe it" is grammatical; it means "I want him to believe it." Jul 5, 2020 at 13:18
  • So “I wish him to believe it” means “I want him to believe it” and “I wish he believed it” means “I want him to believe it (but we know he doesnot believe it)”? Am I correct? Jul 5, 2020 at 17:11
  • "I wish he believed it" means I have a strong desire that he believes it but he does in fact not. Jul 6, 2020 at 0:34

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