I wish YOU happiness or I wish YOUR happiness

Hi. I was wondering which is correct. Could you help me solve my problem?

Hi, kenosaka!

It depends on the cotext / context. For example:

  • Option 1: I wish you happiness (without further information)! Or: I wish you happiness and joy! etc.
  • Optioni 2: I wish your happiness + further information: “I wish (you that) your happiness lasts forever!” etc.
  • Option 3: I (only / just) want your happiness = I (just / only) want you to be happy.

In cases like these, the automatic translations provided by Deepl (deepl.com) can be helpful.
You can also use search engines such as Google with the sentence, group of words (phrase / collocation)
or idiom you’re looking for between quotation marks.
The combination Deepl + the number of Google hits usually shows quickly whether something is rather unnatural in English or not.

Hope that helps
Peter

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As a single phrase, “I wish you happiness” sounds much more natural imho.

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Hi, Peter. Thanks for the reply. “I wish you happiness”. But “I want youR happiness”. Hmmm, difficult! :sweat_smile:

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Thanks amop. I appreciate it.

Hi, Ken!

My first guess is:
This structure is a characteristic of the Indoeuropean language family (English, German, French, etc.) → I wish +
indirect object (English: I wish you / German: ich wünsche Dir - Ihnen - Euch, French: je te / vous souhaite, etc.)

  • indefinite article + countable direct object (a nice trip, etc.) or
    no article + uncountable direct object (happiness, luck, whatever).
    For example:
  • I wish you a Merry Christmas
  • I wish you a nice trip
  • I wish you luck
    etc.

My seoond guess is:
It’s a collocation problem, i.e., a problem of conventional groups of words that normally go together. When this conventionalization follows the structure mentioned above, it sounds “natural” to Indo-European native speakers. Otherwise, it sounds “unnatural”, even if it’s semantically and grammatically ok.

The dynamic underlying such conventionalizations isn’t a linguistic but a communicative one.
This means: Tens of thousands of conventional word groups used by native speakers help to reduce the high number of combinable language forms. And this reduced language complexity facilitates communication processes, esp. in everyday situations.
.
Yes, it’s tricky, but also fascinating, isn’t it? :slight_smile:

Have a nice day
Peter

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your sounds incorrect, you is very natural and I hear it used all the time. One way to use your here is:

I wish YOU and YOUR family happiness.
Or…
I wish FOR YOUR happiness.

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Yeah, fascinating! But… oh, man. Confusing! LOL

Hi, Terra. Wow, another option? I wish FOR YOUR happiness. Thanks.

I wish you happiness.

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Hey, that’s not that complicated at all:) The construction is “Subject wish someone something”. There’s a lot of verbs that are used similarly. E.g. “I tell you something”, “You show me something” and when you learn a new word you just have to look careful at the example and try to remember the whole structure.

“Your” is a word you can use instead of an article in front of a phrase to signify possession. Other words that function like this are: my, his, her, its, their.
A father => Your father
The table => My table
That’s why you can stick it pretty much in front of any part of the construction we discuss, replacing articles. “Your father wishes your mother her happiness”. However this would be quite unpleasant in many contexts. For example “her happiness” implies that you do not share happiness with that person.

Notice that you can’t put it in front of “you” or “me”, because those words don’t have any article to replace.

Last, slightly confusing aspect is that in English linguist sometimes talk of a so-called “zero article”. That sounds weird, but means simply that you don’t use any article in front of plural indefinite nouns. Like you’d say “I see a dog”, but “I see dogs”. Why not just say that there’s no article? Because in those examples you can still replace that invisible “zero article” with a possessive word - “I see my dogs”.

Side note: you might notice that in that group there’s a subset of constructions that allow for a curious reformulation (“wish” happens to belong to that group). Instead of “I wish someone something” you can say “I wish something to someone”. It works the same with “tell”. In many Indo-European languages that last part (“to someone”) is represented by a special case called Dative.

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Hi, emede. Thanks for the detailed explanation. Now I think I can understand it.

Well, is it possible to say “I wish happiness”?

If I want to be happy, “I wish I happiness“ sounds awkward, doesn’t it? It should be I wish I were happy.

“I wish I happiness” is not grammatically correct. The grammatically correct form would be “I wish me happiness”. The second pronoun is probably an indirect object of the verb “wish”, similar to: I wish happiness to me, or I wish happiness for me. But although the grammar is correct, that sound a bit unnatural; I would not say that.

I do like your phrasing, “I wish I were happy”, though that implies that I am not happy now. Some ways that I might phrase the wish:
I hope for happiness.
I hope to be happy.
I wish to be happy.
I wish for happiness.

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Hi! Your is a posessive pronoun. So Your happiness means, the happiness you are the owner of.
Therefore the sentence I wish your happiness is both nonsensical and incomplete.

In your first sentence you have 3 ingredients. You have the Subject I, who is doing the wishing. You have the indirect object You, the one who is receiving the wish and you have the direct object, hapiness, the thing that is wished. Who wishes what to whom? I wish happiness to you= I wish you happiness.

In the second sentence I wish your happiness you only have 2 ingredients. The subject I and the indirect object, The happiness that you own, or your happiness.

So we have two problems here. Firstly it is not mentioned what is being wished to your happiness. So let us fill in something to see what the sentence would look like.

I wish your happiness a good day. This is gramtically correct but what does it even mean?
Here you see the second problem. Your happiness as an indirect object is not something that can receive a direct object.

You, as a person can receive something from another person, like a wish for happiness. Your happiness itself can not receive any wishes.

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Hahaha, I’ve written a huge wall of text on different ways European languages handle indirect and direct objects and the whole topic of cases, but in the end I decided that it’s just too confusing:) English is just really relaxed about that whole business and the comparisons are not that helpful.

The structure “I wish you something” is used to express that you want something to happen for somebody in a certain way, but you don’t really have any control over that process.

“I wish I were happy” is just a different, maybe more useful use of the verb and it has a very different meaning. The construction is “subject+wish (that)+ object + past simple”.

This structure is used to express that you would like something to be different, but you don’t expect it to change. So “wish I were happy” means that you are not happy, you would like that to change that, but it’s not up to you and you don’t really expect that. Pretty bleak picture, isn’t it?

For past regrets you use past perfect (“I wish I hadn’t touched that pizza”). That" is optional and the object looks here the same way as the subject - I/you/he/she/it/we/you/they, because you basically join two simpler sentences together.

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As Peter has already explained, ‘you’ is the indirect object; ‘happiness’ is the direct object. ‘I wish you happiness’ is like saying, “I wish happiness upon you.” What I am wishing for is happiness, but I am wishing that happiness upon you. I wish you happiness.

“I wish you…” is often used as a bittersweet sentiment when there is a break-up in a relationship.
I wish you the best. (But I’m the best you’ll ever have.)
I wish you a beautiful life. (It’s a shame that I’m no longer a part of it.)
I wish you happiness. (But we were the happiest when we were together.)

“I wish you happiness” or “I wish you all the happiness in the world” can actually sound like you’re permanently saying good-bye to someone. Food for thought.

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@brucenator
Bruce is right to point out that there are other socially shared connotations and individual associations beyond the literal meaning of “I wish you happiness.”

@emde33 @kenosaka
But, it isn’t a good strategy to learn the “wish grammar structures” by heart
(see, for example: Using WISH in English Grammar | I Wish - If Only • 7ESL).

Or to paraphrase the Mandalorian, “Immersion is the way!”
That is: If we get enough exposure to our target languages by reading and listening a lot, the magic of automatic pattern recognition happens. And then we just “know” that “I wish you happiness” sounds right and “I wish your happiness” doesn’t.

So, Ken, the Mandalorian’s advice on language learning would be:
“Follow the Mandalorian way’ and there will be neither explicit grammar learning nor confusion. There will only be automatic pattern recognition” .

May the Force be with you (without using any explicit wish grammar structures)! :slight_smile:

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Not sure whether this will make it make sense to you but here is how you can use the English language

I wish you happiness = I wish you get happiness
I wish your something (something you own or belongs to you) something (that it gets)

I wish you success in your exam tomorrow
I wish your brother success in his exam tomorrow

I wish you happiness
I wish you lots of happiness
I wish for your continued happiness
I wish for your happiness to last

I wish you lots of candy
I wish your candy would not get stolen
I wish for your candy not to get stolen
I wish for you to get lots of candy

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Hi, Peter. Thanks for the advice. That’s totally true. Immerse is the way!

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