Wonder vs. Wander

Wonder and wander are words that sound similar and spelled almost the same, but have different meanings and usage. Wonder has many meanings. As a verb, it means “think about” or “marvel at.” Moreover, it also means “to doubt or question something.” As a noun, it describes “a feeling of surprise, curiosity, or admiration.” On the other hand, wander is a verb that means “to walk or move aimlessly.” Additionally, it has other uses that talk about movement.

A trick to help you remember which one to use is wander starts with “wa-,” the same as “walking.” Hence, when talking about walking or direction, use wander. Meanwhile, when talking about imagining or admiration, use wonder.

When to Use Wonder

Wonder is used as a verb, noun, and adjective. First, as a verb, it means “to speculate curiouslyor “be amazed or surprised at.” Moreover, it also means “to doubt or question something.” Second, as a noun, it means “a feeling of surprise, curiosity, or admiration.” Lastly, as an adjective, it means “something is efficient or extremely good.”

Wonder as a Verb

Thinking About Something with Curiosity

I wonder if Tammy and Terry will come to us at the dinner party.

She’s been quiet all day – it makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

What are they going to do now next after hearing the news, I wonder?

Having a Feeling of Admiration or Surprise

I wondered at the colorful decorations during the parade.

We wondered at his unacceptable behavior.

Sometimes I wonder about her choices.

Asking a Question Politely

‘I wonder if you’re interested in working with me?’

‘I wonder whether you can make revisions this weekend?’

‘I wonder if you’ll allow me to have another drink tonight?’

Expressing Doubt or Question

‘Is he serious?’ ‘I wonder.’

I wonder if he’s lost his mind!

I wonder if it’s going to be alright.

Wonder as a Noun

Describes a Feeling of Surprise, Curiosity, or Admiration

It’s a wonder that Leila’s coming with us on our beach trip. She usually doesn’t like swimming.

We gazed with wonder at the fireworks.

Machu Picchu is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Wonder as an Adjective

Expressing that Something is Efficient or Excellent

Prozac is a famous wonder drug used to treat depression.

Those wonder toys are fantastic.

The team is inventing a wonder drug to cure anxiety.

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When to Use Wander

Wander is a verb that means “to walk or move aimlessly.” Generally, wander deals with movement, walking, and traveling. Also, it’s used figuratively when expressing that someone’s mind is “wandering” or distracted.

Wander as a Verb

Walking or Traveling Aimlessly

He wandered happily in the streets of Tokyo.

I like wandering in unfamiliar places.

“Not all who wander are lost.”

Expressing that Someone is Preoccupied Due to Boredom

My thoughts start wandering when I’m doing an easy task.

The mind wanders when it’s not busy.

Mrs. Kinsella’s mind wandered and started worrying.

Moving Away from the Right Place

Don’t let the child wander off.

Her baby daughter wandered off and got lost.

‘I couldn’t believe you let him wander away.’

Talking About Something Unrelated

Don’t let the child wander off.

Wandering off campus is not allowed.

‘I couldn’t believe you let him wander away.’

Looking Around Slowly

Her gaze wandered across the room.

His eyes wandered toward the art pieces on the wall.

After letting my gaze wander, I feel better.

Conclusion: Wonder vs. Wander: Which One to Use?

Even though wonder and wander can be confusing as they sound the same and are spelled almost similarly, they have different meanings. Remember, wonder deals with thinking, questioning, and being amazed, while wander deals with walking, traveling, or moving. Both wandering and walking have the letter “a” in spelling, so remember that whenever in doubt.


References:

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Wonder. Inhttps://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/wonder

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Wander. Inhttps://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/wander

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Wonder. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wonder

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Wander. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wander

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries. (n.d.). Wonder. In https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/  dictionary. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/wander_1?q=wonder

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries. (n.d.). Wander. In https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/  dictionary. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/wander_1?q=wander