Strategies for Parents

I Wonder or I Am Wondering: What’s the Difference?

By: Author Noelle Rebain

Posted on Published: May 29, 2021

Curious minds often wonder about complex questions, scientific theories, and even grammatical constructs — and there’s no doubt that the latter can make you scratch your head in wonder, too. So, what’s the difference between phrases like “I wonder” and “I am wondering”? 

The difference between “I wonder” and “I am wondering” comes down to tense. When you say “I wonder,” you are using the simple present tense, which indicates something is generally true, unchanging, or ongoing. “I am wondering” is present progressive, which means that something continuous occurs at the precise time you are speaking or in the future. 

Often, you’ll see “I wonder” used in hypothetical situations and “I am” or “I was” wondering for situations that require a higher degree of politeness when asking a question or making a request.  

Read on to learn more about these phrases and when and how to use them correctly in your writing. 

Wonder or Wondering: What’s the Difference?  

Whether you wonder how you’ll ever grasp the intricacies of English grammar, or you are wondering if you will finally pass that major exam that is right around the corner, both words, “wonder” versus “wondering,” communicate the same general meaning.  

The difference comes down to understanding the various ways you can communicate an idea in the present tense. There are several different forms of the present tense in English, but the two we’ll learn about here are actually simpler than you might think.

Before we get into too much detail about how to use simple present versus present progressive, let’s first break down the difference in meaning between “wonder” versus “wondering.”    

What Does “Wonder” Mean?

The word “wonder” simply means that you are asking yourself a question or expressing a desire to know or learn more about something ( source ). We most often use it as a verb, meaning it is an action word — something that you are physically doing or even a state of being ( source ).  

You can actually be in a “state of wonder.” All that means is that while everyone around you may think you are simply looking up at the stars, for example, you are really gazing at them with admiration, curiosity, or questioning the mysteries of the universe.  

But, in that case, you are using the term as a noun.  

Using “Wonder” as a Verb or Noun

First, take a look at the two sentences below, each using the word “wonder” as a traditional verb.

1.     I sometimes wonder if my husband will ever show up on time!

2.     I wondered at the beauty of the night sky as we set up our camping gear.

Both uses of “wonder” above are verbs. Both illustrate the action of wondering, thinking, or questioning something, whether it is simple, such as a friend showing up on time, or more esoteric, like discovering the intricacies of the universe.  

As we mentioned a moment ago, wonder can also be a noun. The meaning is not different at all, but rather than an action, wonder becomes a feeling experienced with admiration or the experience of something strange or new. Here’s an example:

3.     I gazed in wonder at the magnificent replication of four past presidents of the United States on Mount Rushmore.  

Above, wonder is a thing or idea or, more specifically, a feeling of awe or amazement. 

Often, you’ll find the word “wonder” with an “-ing” attached at the end. It doesn’t change its meaning, necessarily, but it does change how you will use it and in what tense you are writing.   

What Does “Wondering” Mean?

When you add an “-ing” to the word “wonder,” you are simply changing the tense of the verb from present simple to present continuous or progressive, which indicates that what you are wondering about is something that you are thinking in that moment, at that precise time.

It may mean that you are questioning or thinking about something that you do not know the answer to, or it could be something that you’ve not yet made a decision about. Let’s take a look:

1.     I am wondering what I’ll have for dinner tonight.

2.     I am wondering if my dog is going to get along with my sister’s cat.  

In the first sentence, the speaker is in the midst of making a decision about dinner — it is something he or she is wondering at that moment. 

The second sentence is quite similar but indicates that the speaker is wondering about something he or she is uncertain about at that time or perhaps in the future — whether the dog will get along with the cat.  

Understanding “-ing” Verbs

The “-ing” form of a verb, as we mentioned earlier, changes the tense of the verb that you are using. In the case of “wonder,” adding the “-ing” communicates to your reader that you are writing in the progressive or continuous verb tense ( source ).

Don’t get confused by progressive versus continuous; you’ll find the terms used interchangeably, and they mean the same thing. 

Present progressive/continuous simply shows a continuous action that is happening now.  While that may sound a little bit confusing or contradictory, think of it this way — when you are wondering about something, you often do not have an answer immediately. 

In other words, you are likely going to wonder about it for a while, whether a few hours in the case of deciding what you will eat for dinner or the foreseeable future if you are wondering about something more abstract or evasive, such as how the stars hang in the sky.   

As a note, you can also add “-ing” to the word “wonder” to create a noun. This is probably the least common use of the word, but it is worth mentioning.  

We call nouns like these “gerunds.” While we derive a gerund from a verb, they function as a noun since they are the subject of your clause/sentence. Here’s an example:

1.     Wondering is what I often do when I get distracted in school. 

Here, wondering is an idea, a noun — the verb (do) comes later in the sentence.  

We’ll talk a bit more about tenses in the next section and break down more specifically the difference in usage between “I wonder” versus “I am wondering.”

i am wandering meaning

“I Wonder” Versus “I Am Wondering”: Knowing Which Phrase to Choose  

Again, there is no distinct difference in meaning between these two phrases. One is something that can be generally true — whether in the past, present, or future — or unchanging; the other can be ongoing but happens at a particular present moment.  

Tenses can be a bit tricky, and we won’t cover too much about the many variations of tense in English grammar. Still, here, we’ll break down present simple and present progressive/continuous with example sentences so that you can see the difference between the two.

Understanding Simple Present Tense

When you write in the simple present tense, you are generally using the base form of a verb, which is why grammarians call it “simple.” It’s the easiest to form — the only time you’ll need to change the form of the verb is if you are writing in the third person point of view. In that case, you’ll simply need to add an “-s” at the end of the word. 

In the case of “wonder,” your sentence would look like this:

1.     I wonder if school will be canceled due to the snow.  

2.     He wonders if school will be canceled due to the snow.

The first sentence is in the first-person point of view (I), the second in the third (he). These sentences show a general truth. Verbs written in the simple present tense can also express habits, fixed or unchanging situations, emotions, and even wishes or desires ( source ). 

Remember, the only thing simple present cannot communicate is something that is happening right now. For that, you’ll need that “-ing” ending; we’ll get into that next, but, first, take a look at a few more examples showing how you can use “I wonder” in a sentence.

Using “I Wonder” in a Sentence”

While using “I wonder” in a sentence is perfectly correct, you probably won’t see or use it as often as you will “I am wondering.” That’s because, in general, if you are wondering about something, you are thinking about it at that moment.  

To communicate general wonder or an unchanging habit that reflects wonder, you might say something like the following:

1.     I wonder when world peace will occur, if ever.

2.     I wonder if the problems around climate change will get better.

3.     She often wonders if her parents will stay together forever. 

4.     He wonders if college is the right decision for him.

In each of the examples above, wonder is something that each speaker/writer is expressing, not necessarily at that moment, but rather an ongoing question — one that is likely to remain unanswered for a period of time.   

Understanding Present Progressive/Continuous Tense

Now that you have a good handle on simple present tense, it’s time to break down present progressive/continuous a bit more. Here is where you’ll use “I am wondering” in your writing.

The easiest way to double-check yourself and determine if you need to use present progressive/continuous is to ask yourself, “Is it something I’m wondering about right this very moment?” If your answer is yes, you’ll need to write “I am wondering.” 

You can form the present progressive/continuous by combining a helping verb (to be) and your present participle, which is simply a verb ending in “-ing” ( source ). 

So, when you write “I am wondering,” I (noun) is the subject of your sentence, am is the helping verb, and wondering is the present participle with your “-ing” ending. 

Present progressive can also indicate something that will happen in the future, but, regardless, the actual wondering is still happening in the moment. 

You may be wondering about what grade you received on a test, for example. You are wondering (thinking or questioning) at that moment about something you will find out in the future.  

Using “I am Wondering” in a Sentence

As you add the word “wonder” to your vocabulary, you’ll more often use it in present progressive form versus present simple. Actually, even more often, you’ll use it in the past tense — we’ll get to that next.  

Here are a few examples using “I am wondering” in a sentence:

1.     I’m wondering if I should go visit my parents this weekend.

2.     I’m wondering why I haven’t heard from my sister by now.

3.     He is wondering whether or not he should cancel class today.

4.     She’s wondering if she should break up with her boyfriend.

Again, in each of the examples above, the speaker/writer is wondering about something at that very moment. It is not a general truth, habit, or unchanging event; it’s something happening right now, as you are speaking or writing.

i am wandering meaning

What About Past Tense?: When to use “I Was Wondering”  

While we’ve broken down the difference between “I wonder” and “I am wondering,” one thing we have not mentioned is the phrase “I was wondering.” This, actually, is the most common way in which you will see the word “wondering” in writing and speaking. 

Rather than present tense, the combination of “was” and “wondering” indicates past continuous tense since “was” is a past tense linking or helping verb. Past tense always communicates something that has already happened. In this case, the action of wondering has already occurred.

What makes “I was wondering” past continuous is the idea that it implies you started wondering about something in the past before you began speaking. Still, you continue to wonder about the subject. 

Quite frequently, you’ll see this phrase used in situations where an added degree of politeness or formality is required, such as asking someone on a date, for example. 

If you’d like to learn a bit more about past tense and how to use it correctly in your writing, take a look at “ Past Due or Passed Due: Which Is Correct? ” 

Using “I Was Wondering” in a Sentence

There are many ways to say that you were wondering about something. 

Below are a few example sentences. Remember that the phrase indicates something you were wondering about in the past and have since ceased (past simple) or something you began wondering about in the past but continue to do so in the present (past continuous). 

1.     I was wondering if you’d like to go to the movies with me tonight. 

2.     Yesterday, I was wondering if practice was canceled, but it was not. 

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In the first sentence, “was wondering” indicates past continuous, and it also conveys politeness and formality. In the second, the speaker wondered about practice yesterday but no longer wonders about it today.   

Final Thoughts  

Whether you are writing in the past tense, present tense, or progressive/continuous, it can be a lot to wrap your mind around at first. 

Just remember that the main difference between “I wonder,” “I am wondering,” and “I was wondering” comes down to whether something is happening in an ongoing or continuous way, right now, or in the past.  

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Sunday 13th of June 2021

[…] For more information regarding “-ing” verbs, read our article on “I wonder” or “I am wondering.” […]

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Two Minute English

Exploring “I Was Wondering” vs. “I Am Wondering” vs. “I Wonder”: A Guide to Expression

Marcus Froland

March 28, 2024

Choosing the right words can make or break a conversation. It’s all about hitting the right note. “I was wondering,” “I am wondering,” and “I wonder” might seem like they’re interchangeable. But, they’re not. Each phrase sets a different tone and shows a unique level of curiosity or politeness.

Think about the last time you asked someone for a favor or information. Did you pause for a second, considering which phrase to use? It’s more common than you think. This article will strip down these phrases to their core, making it easier for you to decide which one fits your next conversation perfectly.

When it comes to English learning, knowing the difference between “I was wondering,” “I am wondering,” and “I wonder” is key. “I was wondering” is used when you thought about something in the past but might not be thinking about it now. For example, “I was wondering if you’d like to go out for coffee.” It often introduces a polite question or request.

“I am wondering” , on the other hand, means you are currently thinking about something. It’s used for present thoughts, like saying, “I am wondering what to cook for dinner.” This phrase can show you are actively seeking an answer or solution.

Lastly, “I wonder” expresses curiosity or pondering and can be used for both present and general wondering. Saying “I wonder why the sky is blue” reflects a thought or question you have at the moment or in general.

Understanding these differences helps in making your English more precise and effective.

Understanding the Basics of “Wonder” in English Language

Grasping the English grammar involved in the usage of wonder opens a window into one’s ability to navigate between past reflection and present inquiry elegantly. The term “wonder” weaves into the fabric of language basics and serves as a versatile tool in expression in English . To communicate effectively, you need to recognize the subtle but significant differences in how this term functions within various contexts.

Consider the phrase “I wonder” , which is a general expression of your internal musings or casual thoughts shared aloud. Whether you’re musing over the outcome of an event or pondering a philosophical question, this phrase allows you to voice your thoughts without the expectation of an immediate answer, preserving the charm of curiosity in your conversation.

Now, let’s differentiate this from “I am wondering” and “I was wondering” . When you’re in the midst of forming your thoughts and are yet to come to a conclusion, “I am wondering” is your present progressive companion. It invites listeners into your thought process, showing them that you’re actively engaged in seeking out your next steps. On the other hand, “I was wondering” comes into play when you’ve had time to think and are now looking to interact based on these past considerations – a subtle, yet clear move from thought to action.

Familiarize yourself with the following comparative table to succinctly comprehend when to employ each form of “wonder” in your daily dialogues:

Knowing which form of “wonder” to use is less about rigid grammar rules and more about the art of language. It’s a melody that sets the tone of your voice, a painter’s brush that colors your sentences with intent and grace.
  • Use “I wonder” to express open curiosity.
  • Employ “I am wondering” to convey your thought process.
  • Opt for “I was wondering” to make polite requests or inquiries.

By internalizing these language basics , you’ll not only enrich your vocabulary but also enhance the subtlety and richness of your interactions. Remember, English is not just a language of words; it is a playground for expression, where the right phrase can open the right doors.

Breaking Down the Nuances of “I Was Wondering”

Embarking on a journey through the world of English language etiquette , we uncover the soft power of indirect requests through the phrase “I was wondering.” This phrase is a cornerstone in the architecture of polite expression , providing a foundation for conversational politeness that is paramount in both professional and social settings. Let’s dissect the elements that make this phrase so vital for a conversational tone that maintains respect and softening speech .

The Art of Politeness: Indirect Requests with “I Was Wondering”

When you aim to approach a situation with the delicacy of a diplomat, “I was wondering” becomes your ally. It acts as a verbal tiptoe, signaling your awareness of the other person’s autonomy and comfort. This phrase is a master in casual requests , making its use a display of English language etiquette at its finest.

Imagine yourself in a scenario that demands a favor or a slice of someone’s time. Rather than a blunt “Can you help me?” a prelude of “I was wondering if you could help me?” instantly wraps your request in layers of courtesy, making it palatable and pressure-free.

“I was wondering” is not merely a collection of words; it’s the outstretched hand of conversational respect, awaiting a warm handshake from the listener.

Adding “Just” for Informality: Enhancing the Request

The word “just” can transform the landscape of a dialogue with its subtle implication of informality and humility. By embedding this little word into “I was wondering,” you are dressing down the gravity of your request to the level of an offhand remark, something tossed gently into the conversational mix without any weighty expectations.

  • “I was just wondering if you’ve seen my book around?”
  • “ Just wondering if you have any thoughts on the subject?”
  • “Hey, I was just wondering if you’d like to join us for lunch?”

These phrases take the edge off the request, taking a step back from formal language and stepping into the realm of informal language , which is the heartland of easy, accessible communication.

Below is a table that exemplifies the nuanced use of “I was wondering” with and without the addition of “just,” highlighting its versatility and effectiveness in different contexts:

Each and every turn of phrase knitted with “I was wondering” pulls us closer to mastering the art of indirect requests and polite expression . Learn to employ it with finesse, and watch as your ability to navigate sensitive conversational landscapes becomes effortless and your interactions are met with appreciation and a willingness to engage.

Deciphering the Present Thoughts: “I Am Wondering” Explained

When you’re actively engaged in a process of contemplating choices or pondering over possibilities, the phrase “I am wondering” becomes an exquisite tool in your linguistic arsenal. It is a beautiful demonstration of the present progressive tense , a form that allows us to articulate uncertainty and share the thoughts that currently occupy our minds.

Let’s dive deeper into the realms of the English present tense to understand how “I am wondering” enhances our communicative abilities. Unlike its relatives “I was wondering” or “I wonder,” this phrase locks us into the present moment, creating a vibrant snapshot of our thought process as it unfolds in real-time.

“I am wondering” gently invites the listener into the intricate dance of your thoughts, expressing a sense of immediacy and openness in your decision-making journey.

As you navigate scenarios brimming with uncertainty, “I am wondering” stands as a beacon of contemplation, guiding you through a sea of choices without demanding immediate resolution.

Consider how this expression of real-time contemplation appears in the sentences below:

  • I am wondering if I should wait or act now.
  • Currently, I am wondering what the best course of action is.
  • As the deadline approaches, I am wondering how to prioritize my tasks.

And yet, the question arises: how do you decide which form of “wonder” to use? Consider this table to clarify your understanding of the subtle nuances each phrase carries:

It is worth noting that the choice between “I was wondering” and “I am wondering” can influence the level of urgency perceived by the listener. The latter signals that you are in the midst of thinking and possibly seeking input or guidance, whereas the former suggests a more reflective and polite inquiry.

“I am wondering” serves as a delicate verbal mechanism for expressing our thoughts in the English present tense , allowing the speaker to remain open-ended about their future actions. Embrace its use when you wish to articulate uncertainty and foster a sense of collaborative exploration in your dialogues.

Expressing General Curiosity: When to Use “I Wonder”

Ever caught yourself staring off into the distance, murmuring to yourself, “ I wonder why that is ?” This simple phrase, rooted in the English present simple , is our go-to when expressing curiosity . It encapsulates those moments where our thoughts take flight, and are driven by an innate desire to understand the world around us. When you use “I wonder,” you’re not necessarily looking for answers, but rather delighting in the art of questioning, engaging in casual pondering that feeds your curiosity.

It’s a reflection of the human condition to be curious, to reach out with our minds and engage with the unknown. “I wonder” can transform a simple thought into a profound statement, one that invites discussion but does not demand it. So, when do you embrace this expression? Use it any time when a question formulates out of genuine intrigue, and you wish to share it aloud or mull over it internally.

“I wonder” often serves as the beginning of wisdom, opening doors to new knowledge and perspectives.

Stating thoughts aloud can be a means of connecting with others, inviting them to explore alongside you. Unlike its counterparts, “I was wondering” or “I am wondering,” “I wonder” stands on its own as a marker of contemplation and philosophical inquiry.

Expressing curiosity openly can be an entry point to learning and connection. Whether you’re out in nature, contemplating the cosmos, or witnessing an intriguing event, the phrase serves as a simple yet profound way to engage with the joy of wondering. So, the next time you’re wrapped up in the enigma of the unknown, remember that it’s completely natural to vocalize your inquiry using the age-old adage, “I wonder.”

  • Engage with the simplicity and beauty of the unknown using “I wonder.”
  • Encourage others to share in your curiosity without the pressure of immediate solutions.
  • Value the use of “I wonder” as a tool to vocalize your thoughts and questions in a setting that celebrates contemplative dialogue.

Remember, “I wonder” is not about confusion or indecision; it’s about allowing yourself the freedom to question, theorize, and simply revel in the unknown. It’s about enjoying the journey of thought, wherever it may lead, without the urgency of finding an immediate answer. Embrace it, and let your curiosity be the guide to your conversational adventures.

The Intricacies of Tenses: When Past Meets Present in Wonder

When you grasp the grammar intricacies of using “wonder” in its various forms, you navigate the subtle yet meaningful distinctions between past and present reflections. In the realm of English tenses , selecting the correct form of “wonder” reflects not only your mastery of tense application but also the relativity of your thinking with respect to time.

The phrase “I was wondering” suggests a thought journey that has culminated into an inquiry—it’s where your past mental wanderings prompt present dialogue. Conversely, the expressions “I am wondering” and “I wonder” stand firmly in the present tense , showcasing a continuum of thought that engages with the here and now.

Let’s uncover how these various expressions pivot around the fulcrum of time, each occupying a distinct place along the spectrum of past vs present tense . These aren’t just grammatical formalities; they are essential cogs in the mechanics of polite, effective communication.

Understanding when to use which tense is to respect the timeline of your own thoughts as they manifest into words—each tense serving a purpose, each word painting a picture of time.

Consider the following table which dissects these phrases according to their uses in time:

Using “I was wondering” equips you with a subtle, retrospective lens, perfect for approaching conversations with deference and tact, while “I am wondering” and “I wonder” align with the spontaneity and immediacy of the present. Being aware of the past vs present tense can thus influence the reception of your communication.

  • Apply “I was wondering” to gently transition from reflection to courteous inquiry.
  • Choose “I am wondering” to share active, in-the-moment considerations or dilemmas.
  • Opt for “I wonder” when expressing curiosity or marveling without a direct follow-up action.

The journey through the landscape of English tenses reveals a terrain rich in nuances and subtleties. As you traverse this landscape, let your knowledge of tense application guide you, enhancing both the clarity and empathy of your communication.

“I Was Wondering If” vs. “I Was Wondering Whether”: A Matter of Choice

As you refine your English grammar choices , especially when crafting conditional expressions , you might hesitate over the subtle intricacies between “if” and “whether”. In the quest to express your thoughts and questions smoothly, understanding this distinction becomes vital. When you utter or pen, “I was wondering if,” or “I was wondering whether,” you are faced with options that, while they may seem minute, reveal the depth and flexibility of the English language.

These two conjunctions—”if” and “whether”—while often used interchangeably, can infuse your sentence with a slight variance in tone and clarity. “If” usually introduces a conditional statement, whereas “whether” indicates two or more alternatives. In the context of wondering, both can be used to present a soft inquiry or a polite suggestion.

Let’s explore the role of these language subtleties with a glance at practical examples:

  • I was wondering if you’re available to meet on Monday.
  • I was wondering whether you would prefer coffee or tea in the morning.
“Choice in language enhances precision in thought and politeness in expression.”

Although both “if” and “whether” convey similar meanings in this context, the nuance lies in the underlying implication of each word. Your mastery of these phrases represents more than knowledge of syntax; it’s a foray into deliberate and considerate communication.

The competence to select appropriately between “if” and “whether” is a reflection of your linguistic dexterity and social acumen, exemplifying your mindfulness towards the listener’s perspective. By attentively choosing your conjunctions, you unveil an array of communicative possibilities:

  • In expressing uncertainties or making inquiries.
  • In providing options or seeking permission.
  • In demonstrating politeness and respect.

As your communication skills flourish, so too does your ability to delicately navigate between the lines of what is said and what is meant, thereby enriching your interactions with others. Understanding these diminutive, yet impactful distinctions, fosters clearer and more gracious exchanges.

Remember: in the realm of expressing curiosity and making requests, the choice is yours, whether you opt for “if” or “whether”. Each serves as a testament to the adaptability and beauty of the English language, allowing you to wonder with grace and tact.

Informal Queries: The Acceptance of “Just Wondering” in Conversation

In your casual conversations, you’ve likely encountered or used the phrase “just wondering.” This colloquial expression symbolizes the relaxed tone of informal questions , making it a staple in everyday spoken English. Such informalities serve to soften requests, signaling to your conversation partner that your inquiry is made with light-hearted curiosity rather than pressing demand. It’s important to appreciate how this informal vernacular complements the diverse expression of our language, adding shades of subtlety to colloquial speech .

Avoiding Common Errors: Why “I Am Wondered” Doesn’t Work

While embracing the ease of informal speech, you also need to be aware of grammar pitfalls . A common language error to sidestep is the misuse of tense, as seen in the phrase “I am wondered.” This mismatch of present and past tenses is not endorsed by English grammar conventions. The correct form would be “I am wondering,” reflecting an ongoing mental process. It’s small missteps like these that can inadvertently muddle your message, so watch out for such blunders in your communication.

Expanding Vocabulary: Synonyms for “Wondering” and “Wonder”

As you broaden your linguistic horizons, consider exploring synonyms for wonder to enrich your vocabulary expansion . Alternatives like ponder, think, ask oneself, meditate on, and reflect on can elegantly articulate varying degrees of curiosity or contemplation. Whether you’re striving for formality or crafting an engaging narrative, these substitutes for wondering allow for a more diverse expression . They not only enhance the depth of your vocabulary but also refine the clarity of your communication.

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Wandering is used in the context of walking around sand not knowing where you’re going. Wondering is used to talk about things you’re curious about. They both working that context but they mean very different things. Hope this help!

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“wandering” is the act of walking around. Ex: I like wandering around the theme park and looking at the rides. “wondering” is thinking about something. Ex: I’m wondering what it would be like to ride the roller coaster.

i am wandering meaning

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Synonyms of wandering

  • as in rambling
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Thesaurus Definition of wandering

 (Entry 1 of 2)

Synonyms & Similar Words

  • digressionary
  • digressional

Antonyms & Near Antonyms

  • straightforward
  • undeviating
  • peripatetic
  • galavanting
  • on the move
  • gallivanting
  • perambulatory

Thesaurus Definition of wandering  (Entry 2 of 2)

  • knocking (about)
  • gadding (about)
  • kicking around
  • vagabonding
  • milling (about or around)
  • trespassing
  • transgressing
  • breaking the law
  • falling from grace
  • backsliding

Thesaurus Entries Near wandering

wandering (into)

Cite this Entry

“Wandering.” Thesaurus , Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on wandering

Nglish: Translation of wandering for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wandering for Arabic Speakers

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“I Was Wondering” vs. “I Am Wondering” vs. “I Wonder”

When using the word “wonder,” it would help to know which phrases work best with it. There are a few ways we can use it, and those either make statements or ask questions. This article will explore the three main uses of “wonder” and which works best.

What Is The Difference Between “I Was Wondering”, “I Am Wondering”, And “I Wonder”?

“I was wondering” is used to make an indirect request. We usually follow the phrase with a question to ask permission. “I am wondering” is used to share your present thoughts, while “I wonder” is used to express thoughts in a similar way, so sometimes it is not said aloud.

I was wondering vs I am wondering vs I wonder

The key differences come from the tenses we want to use.

“Was” is a past tense word. We use it in this phrase to show that we were previously thinking to ourselves, but now we are acting on whatever that thought might have been. For example:

  • I was wondering if you could help me.

“I am wondering” and “I wonder” are both related to the present tense. They are almost identical in meaning, but we typically use “I am wondering” as the present progressive tense, which we mostly use when we want to determine what happens next:

  • I am wondering what I should do.

“I wonder” is a much more general way to establish or express our thoughts to others.

  • I wonder what happened over there.

When Should I Use “I Was Wondering”?

Let’s start by looking more into the three phrases. We’ll start with the one that’s most appropriate when asking for permission or making a request.

“I was wondering” works whenever you want to indirectly ask for permission or help. It is a polite way to introduce a question or ask for something that might otherwise be portrayed as rude.

You can see how impactful “I was wondering” is on the following examples:

  • Can you help me?

The two requests are identical, but using “I was wondering” helps the listener to understand that we’re not pressuring them, and we’re trying to be as polite as possible.

You might also find the word “just” comes into play. This mostly applies to informal situations and can typically show up in spoken English. Here’s how it would look:

  • I was just wondering if you have a moment to spare.

The “just” makes the request after it seems more like an afterthought. This helps to show the listener that we’re not desperate for their permission, and we will be okay if they turn us down. However, their acceptance would be greatly appreciated in these situations.

When Should I Use “I Am Wondering”?

“I am wondering” works to express our thoughts at present. It’s a little more specific than any of the others.

You can use “I am wondering” when you want to write something that is in the present progressive form. This means we are thinking about something presently, but we’re not sure what our future actions are going to be (until we’ve decided).

There aren’t too many cases where this phrase works all that well. It’s definitely the most specific of the forms. Still, we might see it as follows:

  • I am wondering if I should go after her.

As you can see, we haven’t decided upon our next action. We are trying to decide whether it’s worth doing or not, which is what “I am wondering” is trying to do for us.

The idea is that by the time we finish “wondering,” we should know what to do.

Again, “just” comes into play to make the phrase even more informal than before:

  • I am just wondering if I should stick around for this.

It’s similar to “I was just wondering,” but this time, “just” shows an urgency to the “wondering” action. Typically, we don’t have long to make our final decision, and we’re showing that we’re trying to think as quickly as we can.

When Should I Use “I Wonder”?

Finally, we come to “I wonder.” This is the more general present expression of thought we can use. It would help to see how it differs from “I am wondering.”

“I wonder” is a general way to express a thought. We typically use it when we want to know more about certain situations or things that have happened around us.

You can see how the phrase differs from “I am wondering” by referring to the following example:

  • I wonder if anybody noticed me leaving.

As you can see, “I wonder” is a simple way to express our current thought. We might currently be thinking about our previous exit from something and wondering if “anybody noticed” or if we weren’t caught.

Examples Of How To Use “I Was Wondering” In A Sentence

Some further examples will go a long way to help you understand the three phrases. We’ll start with the requesting phrase.

  • I was wondering if you would be able to follow me.
  • I was just wondering if you had a moment to spare to help me.
  • I was wondering if we could try again!
  • I was just wondering if you enjoyed yourself or not.
  • I was wondering whether I could be of assistance, so I came to ask you.
  • I was wondering if you needed help with that, and I’m happy to assist.
  • I was just wondering if I should ask you for help.

“I was wondering” works to ask permission to do something. Sometimes, we use it to make a request, while other times, we might use it to offer our own services to someone else.

Examples Of How To Use “I Am Wondering” In A Sentence

Now, let’s look at the more specific statement we can make to share our thoughts or emotions.

  • I am wondering whether it’s worth me sticking around for this.
  • I am just wondering if I should still be here or if it’s better that I leave.
  • I am wondering if you need me at all.
  • I’m wondering whether I should move house by the end of this month or not.
  • I’m just wondering if there’s time for me to visit my mother before I go back.
  • I am wondering whether I should move on to the next idea.
  • I am just wondering what my next move will be!

“I am wondering” works to express our current thought process. It works when we haven’t quite decided what we want to do after our current thought or action, and we are expressing our ideas before making that final decision.

Examples Of How To Use “I Wonder” In A Sentence

Finally, we come to the more general statement yet again. Let’s see how “I wonder” works in more situations.

  • I wonder whether he still thinks about me or not.
  • I wonder if anyone actually cares for him.
  • I wonder what happened here.
  • I wonder who thought it would be clever to do something like that.
  • I wonder who sent me that text message.
  • I wonder whether my boss has somebody he loves in his life.
  • I wonder if this place will hire me after they learn what I’ve done.

“I wonder” is a simple way to express our current thoughts or ideas. There are often no further decisions needed here, and we are just expressing what’s come into our minds.

Is It “I Was Wondering If” Or “I Was Wondering Whether”?

You might have noticed from some of the above examples that we used both “if” and “whether.”

“I was wondering if” and “I was wondering whether” are both correct. In these cases, “if” and “whether” are synonymous, and we can use either to balance out the idea or request we’ve put forward for the listener.

  • I was wondering if you had time for me.
  • I was wondering whether you had time for me.

Is It Acceptable To Use “Just Wondering” As A Question?

“Just wondering” is acceptable when used in an informal setting. We mostly use it in spoken English because the rules are more relaxed. It works well, and many native speakers will use it to ask permission or make a request.

  • Just wondering, would I be able to help you with this?
  • Just wondering, have you got time to help me with my project?

Is It Ever Correct To Use “I Am Wondered”?

“I am wondered” is not correct. We cannot use the phrase “I am” with the past tense verb “wondered.” “I am” is the present tense, and we use the auxiliary verb “am” to show that we are currently doing something. “Wondered” implies we have finished our action, which is impossible.

You should only keep the present tense form if you want to be correct:

  • Correct: I am wondering if I should leave.
  • Incorrect: I am wondered whether I can stay here.

“Wondering” And “Wonder” – Synonyms

Finally, let’s look at some synonyms and alternatives you might be able to use. These synonyms can replace “wondering” or “wonder,” so take your pick.

  • Meditate on

You may also like:

  • Question Mark After “I Was Wondering…”: Complete Guide (15 Examples)

10 Better Ways To Say “I Was Wondering”

martin lassen dam grammarhow

Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here .

  • Is It Correct To Say “Kindly Request”? Explained For Beginners
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i am wandering meaning

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"I am wondering if" vs "I was wondering if"

  • Thread starter EdisonBhola
  • Start date Sep 27, 2014


Senior member.

  • Sep 27, 2014

If at this very moment, I want to find out whether someone can come to my party tomorrow, should I ask: "I am wondering if you can come tomorrow?" Or: "I was wondering if you could come tomorrow?" I think the first one should be used (am wondering) but I have come across numerous similar occasions where people actually say the latter instead. Are both acceptable? Thank you!  


I was wondering if/whether you could is the normal version in BE. You could also say I wonder rather than I am wondering.  



Signal modulation.

The second form is the usual way of asking the question. Note that neither form is actually a question. By saying that you were wondering, the unspoken question is "so can you tell me?". The first form doesn't work as well because it implies that you're still wondering even though the person is available and you could simply ask.  

e2efour said: I was wondering if/whether you could is the normal version in BE. You could also say I wonder rather than I am wondering. Click to expand...
EdisonBhola said: In this context, is it possible to say "I was wondering if you can ..."? Click to expand...

Thank you so much.  

  • Oct 8, 2014

Another related question just came to my mind. Say if I've been looking for Tom and I approach his friend for information. 1. I was wondering if you know Tom's whereabouts. 2. I was wondering if you knew Tom's whereabouts. Do both mean exactly the same thing? I am leaning towards 2 because to me, this is like reported speech -- when the main verb is in past tense (was wondering), all subsequent verbs have to be backshifted (i.e. know -> knew , knew -> had known ). What's your opinion on this?  

They both mean the same thing. Since "I was wondering" is in the past, it's fine to put the knowing in the past. On the other hand you are interested in knowing his whereabouts at the moment of asking as well as at the moment of wondering, so the present is also acceptable.  

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Synonyms and antonyms of wandering in English



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meaning of "Support group" category in Jira Assets

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  1. I Wonder or I Am Wondering: What's the Difference?

    The difference between "I wonder" and "I am wondering" comes down to tense. When you say "I wonder," you are using the simple present tense, which indicates something is generally true, unchanging, or ongoing. "I am wondering" is present progressive, which means that something continuous occurs at the precise time you are ...


    WANDERING definition: 1. present participle of wander 2. to walk around slowly in a relaxed way or without any clear…. Learn more.

  3. Wandering Definition & Meaning

    wandering: [adjective] characterized by aimless, slow, or pointless movement: such as. that winds or meanders. not keeping a rational or sensible course : vagrant. nomadic. having long runners or tendrils.

  4. I am wandering

    Whether it'll be any good or not is a different matter… Francesca Simon, author of Horrid Henry series and The Lost Gods I've just finished book 1 of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels and I am wandering around in a daze until I can get hold of Books 2, 3 and 4. My reading resolution this year is not to feel guilty if I read during the work day.


    WANDER definition: 1. to walk around slowly in a relaxed way or without any clear purpose or direction: 2. If…. Learn more.

  6. WANDERING definition and meaning

    Wandering is used to describe people who travel around rather than staying in one place for a.... Click for English pronunciations, examples sentences, video.

  7. Wandering

    wandering: 1 n travelling about without any clear destination "she followed him in his wanderings and looked after him" Synonyms: roving , vagabondage Types: drifting aimless wandering from place to place Type of: travel , traveling , travelling the act of going from one place to another adj having no fixed course "his life followed a ...

  8. WANDERING Definition & Meaning

    Wandering definition: moving from place to place without a fixed plan; roaming; rambling. See examples of WANDERING used in a sentence.

  9. Wandering Definition & Meaning

    Wandering definition: That wanders; moving from place to place; roaming, roving, straying, etc.

  10. wandering

    wandering - WordReference English dictionary, questions, discussion and forums. All Free.

  11. past tense

    While technically the three phrases differ in tense, they all have the same meaning. I'd suspect that "I was wondering" is used most often, followed by "I wonder". "I am wondering" would probably be reserved for cases where you're really perplexed because it suggests the wonder continued over a longer period of time.

  12. I Was Wondering" vs. "I Am Wondering" vs. "I Wonder

    A more general and open-ended expression of curiosity without immediate action. Using "I was wondering" equips you with a subtle, retrospective lens, perfect for approaching conversations with deference and tact, while "I am wondering" and "I wonder" align with the spontaneity and immediacy of the present.


    WANDERING meaning: 1. present participle of wander 2. to walk around slowly in a relaxed way or without any clear…. Learn more.

  14. What is the difference between "I'm wandering

    Synonym for I'm wandering "wandering" is the act of walking around. Ex: I like wandering around the theme park and looking at the rides. "wondering" is thinking about something. Ex: I'm wondering what it would be like to ride the roller coaster.|Wandering is used in the context of walking around sand not knowing where you're going. Wondering is used to talk about things you're ...

  15. WANDERING Synonyms: 96 Similar and Opposite Words

    Synonyms for WANDERING: rambling, leaping, excursive, indirect, discursive, meandering, maundering, desultory; Antonyms of WANDERING: consistent, logical, coherent ...


    WONDERING definition: 1. present participle of wonder 2. to ask yourself questions or express a wish to know about…. Learn more.

  17. "I Was Wondering" vs. "I Am Wondering" vs. "I Wonder"

    I am just wondering if I should still be here or if it's better that I leave. I am wondering if you need me at all. I'm wondering whether I should move house by the end of this month or not. I'm just wondering if there's time for me to visit my mother before I go back. I am wondering whether I should move on to the next idea.

  18. "I am wondering" or "I wonder"?

    When they use to wonder at, they mean this definition: to be in a state of [astonishment or admiration] Given your definition, your options are: I am wondering at how easy the task is! or. I wonder at how easy the task is! "I wonder" is known as the Present Simple tense. Generally, this is used for permanent states.

  19. "I am wondering if" vs "I was wondering if"

    They both mean the same thing. Since "I was wondering" is in the past, it's fine to put the knowing in the past. On the other hand you are interested in knowing his whereabouts at the moment of asking as well as at the moment of wondering, so the present is also acceptable.


    WANDERING - Synonyms, related words and examples | Cambridge English Thesaurus

  21. meaning of "Support group" category in Jira Assets

    I am wondering what the meaning of the "Support group" entry is in Jira Assets. A brief textual definition followed by a couple examples would be greatly appreciated. I am familiar with ISO norm terminology for assets and I wonder in particular if Support group is similar to ISO Support Level. Thank you very much for your kind help, Maël

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