Both these conditional sentences are grammatical:

  1. If I bought that apartment, we'd have a place to party whenever we wish.

  2. If I bought that apartment, we'd have a place to party whenever we wished.

Is there a slight difference in meaning between wish and wished though? Does the preterite form signal a reduced likelihood? Or does it simply comply to the overall "past tense" of the apodosis?

  • FWIW, I'd be more likely to use the past with "whenever" than with "when". "If I had a good umbrella, I'd stay dry (when it rains) (whenever it rained)." Jan 3 '16 at 11:27
  • This is a good question! In my language both are possible but I'd like to know whether both work or there's only a possibility.
    – Schwale
    Jan 3 '16 at 17:57
  • Hmm... For some reason I would use present tense throughout, but the main point might be don't mix tenses. Using past tense, I would say "...whenever we wanted to."
    – user3169
    Jan 3 '16 at 18:42
  • I looked up "whenever " in Oxforddictionaries.com.It is used both with Present Simple and Past Simple but the examples show that you can't mix the tenses +1 user3169
    – V.V.
    Jan 4 '16 at 0:12

It really depends on what you mean. If you're talking about something that is unlikely or impossible to happen in the present or future, then the second condional sentence is what you want.
eg. If I bought that apartment, we would have a place to party whenever we wished. Remember that "wished" here, is unreal past (refers to the present and future).
If you are likely to buy the apartment , use the first conditional form:
eg. If I buy that apartment, we will have a place to party whenever we wish.


Would say wished to because it sounds as though it were a concealed second conditional: we could have a party whenever we wanted to

If we wanted to have a party, we could have one.

However I would stick to wish if the introductory part were a first conditional If I buy this apartment we will have a place to party whenever we wish to

Note I have used wish(ed) to as in want to


In common spoken English, there doesn't seem to exist any significant difference between the two tenses, at least descriptively. However, emphatically the second sentence gives me the impression that the events took place further back in time. This can be implied even further by adding "we'd have had a place...", though this is subjective to the writer/speaker. Contrarily, as a native English speaker I take the first sentence to be spoken in present tense. Informally, "If I bought..." can be used in the present tense for something taking place currently, though this is not prescriptive grammar.

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