I have gone through many Q and A's on some other sites regarding this but I still dont have clarity about the usage of both.

Please read the following sentences.

  1. I wish I hadn't sold my car.
  2. I'd rather I hadn't sold my car.

  3. I wish you hadn't left your job.

  4. I'd rather you hadn't left your job.

Are these sentence exactly identical? Any subtle difference?



"wish + Past subjunctive" and "would rather + infinitive" are not interchangeable.

Young man to a girl: May I kiss you? She: I'd rather kiss a frog.

"I wish I kissed a frog" makes no sense here.


These are all retrospective. The most common use of "wish " is in regard to a future event which is still in question as to whether it will happen. However, one can wish that things that DID happen had NOT happened, or vice versa. "Rather " is more often used in regard to a preference for one alternative over another. So it's a bit odder to say that you "prefer" that what happened had not happened, since you cannot choose it—the outcome is already known. Having said that, all of the sentences are grammatical, and each pair means approxately the same, but I suspect that #2 is less likely than #4, because #2 expresses a personal regret over one's own actions; more likely to use "wish" for that.

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