She had wished to marry him.

She wished to have married him.

I know these two sentences are semantically different, but I'm not sure what the exact difference is.

1 Answer 1


Does this help explain it? "It was lunchtime. I had wanted to eat an hour earlier [at 11]." vs "It was lunchtime. I wanted to have eaten an hour earlier."

Either way, there are two times being talked about. One of them says that the wanting happened earlier, the other one wanted the eating to have happened earlier.

To apply these to your example:

She had wished to marry him

... At some point in the past, she made a wish to marry him.

She wished to have married him.

... At the moment of the narrative, she experienced a wish that sometime in the past she had married him. But this sentence is not terribly idiomatic; a more common version would be use simple past tense: "She wished she had married him."

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