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  1. #1

    Diff: I was wondering if you vs I wonder if you

    Hi Everybody,

    I'd like to know what is different between "I was wondering if you" and "I wonder if you"?

    e.g. I was wondering if you could help me vs I wonder if you could help me.

    One more question, use "you could" or "you can" in the above sentences...


    WYH

  2. kfredson's Avatar

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 700
    #2

    Re: Diff: I was wondering if you vs I wonder if you

    Quote Originally Posted by Williamyh View Post
    Hi Everybody,

    I'd like to know what is different between "I was wondering if you" and "I wonder if you"?

    e.g. I was wondering if you could help me vs I wonder if you could help me.

    One more question, use "you could" or "you can" in the above sentences...


    WYH
    There is no significant difference between the two. People use it when they want to politely inquire about something. It usually implies that you aren't so sure of the appropriateness of what you are asking.

    As for could or can, "could" would most often be used in the case that you assume the person is capable of doing it and you want to know whether or not they'd be willing. "Can" would imply that you want to know about their ability to do so. Generally you wouldn't ask this; if fact, it sounds quite strange.
    To be still more polite you might write:
    I wonder whether you might be willing to help me.

    Of course, it is more direct to simply to say: "Will you please help me?" or "Would you mind helping me?"


    • Join Date: Jan 2010
    • Posts: 6
    #3

    Re: Diff: I was wondering if you vs I wonder if you

    A minor difference between "I was wondering" and "I wonder" is the following:

    "I was wondering" implies you've been thinking about for some (unspecified) time before the present moment--you say it when you wish to emphasize that you've been wondering longer than just the last few moments. That duration could be long or short...hours, days, weeks...

    "I wonder" implies you've just now wondered about it, but also may be used when you're not emphasizing how long you've been thinking it--the duration of your "wondering" is not important for the listener to understand.

    Happy English!

    Chris

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