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​Time To Wonder And Wander At Some English Conversation

A photograph of the Milkyway star system at night with a tree in dark contrast in the foreground, Used as the cover image for Article “Time To Wonder And Wander At Some English Conversation Cover Image”

​Summary: Wonder And Wander

​This weeks Monday podcast is all about the English phrases wonder and wander. The verb to wonder and the verb to wander sound almost exactly the same when spoken by Native English speakers. To help you avoid confusion, we give lots of examples of both words in common everyday English conversation.

The number of uses of the word wonder will surprise you. I hear it in poems and nursery rhymes and I often hear it being used to as “no wonder”, find out more by listening to the audio.

We want to help you prepare for everyday English conversation and that’s why we produce common English phrase podcast lessons. The English phrase we choose is almost always one we have heard being used in a recent English conversation. This keeps the phrases relevant and you know if you learn the phrase provided you will hear it being spoken by English speakers and you can use it in your own conversations knowing it is contemporary and understood by any English speaker.

​Audio Transcript: Time To Wonder And Wander At Some English Conversation

​Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. This is our Monday podcast, so it’s slightly longer than our Thursday podcast. We’ve got lots of podcasts available for you to download – you can put them on your phone! You’ll find them on our website at And if you want to progress more quickly, we also have courses to help you with English conversation. So go and have a look!

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​A common English phrase – ‘No Wonder’

​So today, let’s take a really common English phrase. So the ‘helping hand’ – that’s Adept English Rule Six, if you’ve done our free course, the , you’ll know all about the ‘helping hand’. It means that with English language learning sometimes a bit of help goes a long way. So today’s phrase is ‘No wonder!’. Let’s talk about this common English phrase and have a look at what it means – and some different uses of the word ‘wonder’.

So this is something you’ll hear English speakers say fairly frequently – ‘No wonder!’. But its meaning is not obvious to someone learning English as a foreign language. So let’s do the vocabulary first of all. I think that you know the word ‘No’, N-O already. And you’ll be familiar with how to use it with a noun. So if you say ‘No cheese’ on your burger – it means ‘I don’t want any cheese’. Or if you say ‘No problem’ – it means ‘It’s fine, I’ll do what you ask, it’s not a problem’.

So logically ‘No wonder’ means there isn’t any wonder. But what does the word ‘wonder’ mean? Notice the spelling here, ‘wonder’ – W-O-N-D-E-R. So you might have heard this word in the title of say ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll – that’s a very famous book. Or in another context, at the moment in December, you might visit a ‘Winter Wonderland’. So that might give you a clue.

​The verb ‘to wonder’

​Now the verb ‘to wonder’. So this word can be used a verb ‘to wonder’ and its simplest meaning is ‘to ask yourself’. You are asking yourself a question and you don’t know the answer. So it’s a thought, it’s happening inside your head! So you might say ‘I wonder what we’re going to have for dinner?’. But you wouldn’t say it if you knew – ‘I wonder’ means that you’re trying to guess, you don’t know.

A photograph of the great wall of china one of the wonders of the world. Used as an article image for the article “Time To Wonder And Wander At Some English Conversation Article Image”

So you use this verb ‘to wonder’ about things in the future or things you don’t know the answer to. ‘I wonder if it will rain today?’, ‘I wonder if my car will break down?’, ‘I wonder if we are going out for dinner tonight?’. So you’re asking yourself questions about things you don’t know the answer to. But a slightly different, older meaning of ‘to wonder’? It means that you’re amazed, you’re in awe. If somebody performed a miracle, you might wonder at it.  

​Don’t mistake it for the verb ‘to wander’

​So don’t confuse ‘to wonder’, spelt W-O-N-D-E-R, with the verb ‘to wander’ – which sounds almost the same. Wonder and wander – there’s a bit of a difference but not much, in how you say it. But ‘to wander’ is spelt differently W-A-N-D-E-R, and this is the verb which means to go around, perhaps rather aimlessly, going around without a fixed direction. In German there’s the word Wanderlust – we sometimes use this in English, we say ‘wanderlust’. And it means the urge to walk about, to explore, with no particular purpose or agenda. Wanderlust just means you don’t want to stay still. So I just thought I’d mention the verb ‘to wander’ as it sounds almost the same, but it does mean something different. You might say ‘I’m going to wander around the shops’ or ‘Sheep were wandering on the hillside’. So ‘to wander’ is to walk around, not in a hurry, and with no particular direction in mind. You can also say ‘I’m going for a wander’ – it means the same thing. So ‘to wander’ is a different verb.

​What does ‘wonder’ mean when it’s a noun?

So back to ‘wonder’ – what does it mean when it’s a noun? So W-O-N-D-E-R still, as a noun. It means something surprising, something that will amaze you, or which you will admire. So if you feel ‘wonder’, you feel amazement and it is generally a positive thing. You probably know the word ‘wonderful’ – which means really good, brilliant, amazing. So if something is wonderful, then wonder is what you feel when you look at it. If you imagine the face of a little child, when you first switch on your Christmas tree lights – that might be a face of wonder! That’s assuming your Christmas lights are working and they’re impressive, I guess. Else it may not be a face full of wonder – it might be a difference face!

You might hear someone say ‘Oh, she’s a wonder with the accounts’ or ‘he is a wonder with technical problems’. This means that these people are really good at something – really skilled at accounts or sorting out tech problems’. You can even say someone ‘works wonders’ – that means that they do really amazing things – so amazing in fact that it’s a bit mysterious – how do they do it? It’s someone to be impressed by. So ‘to work wonders’. If you take a pill, a medicine from your doctor and it causes you to get better,, then you might say ‘Oh, it’s worked wonders for me’.

​And what does ‘wonderland’ mean?

So if you go back to the title of the book ‘Alice in Wonderland’ – then Wonderland here is a magical place, which is full of wonder, full of lovely, surprising things. In fact, not to spoil the book for you, it’s actually all a dream. Alice dreams the whole thing. But if you are in a wonderland, it’s full of things you can be amazed at. So you might hear of people visiting a ‘Winter Wonderland’ – it’s the same thing. It’s meant to amaze and surprise you – fill you with wonder. I’m not sure that the ‘Winter Wonderlands’ in the UK really do this that much. We don’t generally have snow and they’re full of artificial snow. Not quite the same – or maybe I’m being a misery guts there? But yes, a ‘wonderland’, whatever sort it is – is an amazing place.

​Examples of the common English phrase ‘No wonder’

​So back to our original phrase, which was ‘No wonder’. We use this in a particular way. What it means is ‘Ah – that’s not a surprise then is it?’ So examples of how we use this might be:-

So usually this phrase is used of a situation, which you might have wondered about. You might have been asking questions about this situation, you didn’t know the answer. You tasted the cake and it was horrible.  Then later you discovered the salt, so you say ‘Ah, no wonder’. You noticed your car was driving badly. And you wondered why – what was the problem? Then you saw the flat tyre. ‘Ah, no wonder the car was driving badly’. It’s what you say when you realise the truth of a situation and it makes sense. ‘Ahh – no wonder’.


So in summary, this is us having a look at the verb in English ‘to wonder’, and making sure you don’t get it confused with the other verb ‘to wander’, which means to move around and to explore. And we’ve looked at the noun ‘wonder’ and ‘wonderland’ and ‘wonderful’ and what that means. And finally at the common English phrase ‘No wonder’. So it’s one of those phrases which is much more likely to be used in conversation than written down. It’s quite expressive ‘No wonder!’You can say it with some feeling. You’ll sound very English if you use this phrase.


Anyway, enough for now. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

PS: We All Need Some Wonder In Our Lives

​Hopefully, we have helped you understand the difference between wonder and wander. If we have, then the next time you wander around a shop and wonder at how expensive the products on the shelves are it will not confuse you.

Don‘t forget to listen to the podcast audio many times. This will help you store these useful English phrases in your long-term memory. If you are new to our way of learning to speak English then you will enjoy our free 7 Rules to Adept English course here. Register your email address and the Free Video English course is available immediately.

As always, if you don‘t like this article or you already know about wonder and wander there are many more articles on common English phrases to listen to here.

You can always find more interesting learn English articles .​


Hilary is an Adept English Editor and a founding member of the company.

This content was originally published here.

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