I would like to ask a question on "wish" clauses. I wonder
if the sentence below is correct or not.
I wish I dreamt of her whenever
I fall asleep.
If it's not, what's wrong with it?
The correct modern version would be
I wish I dreamt of her whenever I fell
This version, the one in the question
I wish I dreamt of her whenever I fall
with the present tense fall, would have been deemed
correct two hundred years ago. Since that time, however, the language
has changed so that the verb forms used after wish
in all the other dependent clauses, not just the object noun
clause, are now correct in the past tense form, to fit with the past
tense form in the object noun clause.
A similar example:
I wish we lived in a world where children
didn’t have to worry about their safety whenever
they went to school.
The past tense form is used with all the verbs to underscore the “unreality”
of the ideas. The time reference of this statement, like sentence (a),
is general present.
In another version, the time reference is either present or post-present,
i.e., some time in the future:
I wish I would dream of her
whenever I fall asleep
In this case, the falling asleep could be during the general present
time period or at some unspecified time in the future.
Sometimes I like to contrast wish and hope.
When something is a fantasy, then you often use wish with a subjunctive
form. One thing the subjunctive does is to show that the speaker doesn't
really expect something to happen; the speaker has a fantasy, not a
hope, and distances himself from the verb by using this subjunctive
The subjunctive form looks like the past tense form; in this case,
the forms would be dreamt (or dreamed)
and fell. Since Ismael’s statement begins with
wish, it must be a fantasy, so “I wish I dreamt
of her….” is correct. (Fall in this sentence
is not correct with wish.)
However, if there's a possibility for something to happen, you can
use hope, with indicative verbs. If the sentence above
is changed to:
I hope I dream of her whenever
I fall asleep,
we know that, sometimes, the dreamer
does indeed dream of his beloved. This is a more optimistic statement
than the fantasy in the wish sentence.
see a related comment, on "I wish she was/were," click