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I've been constantly hearing some people say stuff like this:

I wish I would've listened to him.

While I can't seem to understand the structure.

Isn't it supposed to be:

I wish I had listened to him.

Are these the same? What type lf grammar is the first sentence?

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2 Answers 2

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Using conditional perfect 'I would have' in this way instead of past perfect (e.g. 'I had') is US regional informal or uneducated speech, and regarded by many as an error.

Correct: I wish I had known.
Incorrect: I wish I would have known.

Correct: I wish she had told me.
Incorrect: I wish she would have told me.

Correct: We wish they had been on time.
Incorrect: We wish they would have been on time.

Mistake: If I would have… (Lawless English)

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"I wish I would have..." is a relatively new structure in English. It means the same as "I wish I had...". It has become increasingly common roughly since the 1980s, to the point where it's about 10% as common as "I wish I had" according to Google Ngrams. That's a very significant portion, which means many native speakers of English use this structure naturally. It's even in the title of at least one book: "The Marriage Advice I Wish I Would Have Had"

However, many still consider this form bad to be grammar, and the people who use it to be "uneducated". So, I recommend you learn it so you can understand it, but I don't recommend using it unless you're living among people use it naturally.

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  • I think your second paragraph is a fair compromise. Oct 6, 2022 at 19:37
  • @MichaelHarvey I'm a dyed-in-the-wool descriptivist, so it's no compromise for me to say it's correct
    – gotube
    Oct 7, 2022 at 2:56

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