Word Choice: Wander vs. Wonder
  • 3-minute read
  • 7th June 2021

Word Choice: Wander vs. Wonder

The words ‘wander’ and ‘wonder’ sound similar. They’re also very close in spelling, with only one letter different. However, they differ completely in meaning. To make sure you can avoid errors in your writing, then, check out our guide below.

Wander (Walk Aimlessly)

‘Wander’ is usually a verb meaning ‘walk aimlessly or without purpose’:

I feel like wandering along the seafront.

He likes to wander around the garden after lunch.

More figuratively, we can use it to mean ‘go astray’. For instance:

I was so bored my mind started to wander.

He couldn’t concentrate, so his gaze wandered around the room.

Here, we draw on the sense of aimlessness set out above, but we apply it to things other than walking (e.g. letting your mind or eyes drift aimlessly).

As a noun, moreover, it always refers to an aimless or relaxed walk:

I might go for a wander in town.

And whether you use it as a verb or a noun, the correct spelling is ‘wander’.

Wonder (Think About or Be Amazed By)

As a verb, ‘wonder’ can mean ‘think about or question something’:

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I wonder what time dinner will be.

Don’t you ever wonder why the sky is blue?

Or it can mean ‘be amazed or surprised by something’:

He wondered at her beauty.

It also has a couple of uses as a noun. One is to refer to a feeling of amazement:

As they looked at the Taj Mahal, they were filled with wonder.

The other is to refer to person or thing that inspires such a feeling:

It was surely the eighth wonder of the world.

However you use it, though, this word is always spelled ‘wonder’.

Summary: Wander or Wonder?

These two words sound similar, but they have different meanings:

  • Wander is usually a verb and can mean either ‘walk aimlessly’ or ‘go astray’. As a noun, it can also refer to an aimless walk.
  • As a verb, wonder means ‘think about’ or ‘marvel at’. It can also be a noun that refers to a feeling of amazement (or something that inspires such a feeling).

If you are having trouble deciding which word to use, remember that both ‘wander’ and ‘walk’ start with ‘wa-’, which should help you remember ‘wander’ usually refers to walking. However, if you’d like more assistance, our proofreaders are available around the clock. Upload a free trial document to find out more.

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