Every week I will demonstrate an example of poor English where a different word is used from the one intended. Sometimes this creates a grammatically incorrect sentence. Unfortunately, the mistake is usually so pervasive that we all do it and such errors are usually made by those who should know better – journalists working for national or global media outlets such as newspapers and television
Wander / Wonder
This is another that I have to pause and check sometimes. The words are pronounced slightly differently but with some regional and national accents they are often pronounced identically. They do have very different meanings.
Wander: Means to move aimlessly, directionless and with no clear direction or end planned. “I went wandering on the moors and decided to go where the wind took me.”
Wonder: Is to think or to express curiosity. “I wonder what your mother will make of that!”
There is an easy way to remember which way around each word should be. Wander with an “a” – ambling, aimless. Wonder with an “o”, oh my, oh yes, oh that’s right. Perhaps not quite as a catchy as E for Envelope but it works for me.
Grammarist has an explanation for where each word comes from.
The words have separate origins in Old English. Wonder comes from wunder, a noun for a marvel or a wondrous thing. Wander comes from wandrian, meaning to move aimlessly. They took their modern forms by the 16th century (both words appear in Shakespeare), and they have remained more or less unchanged through the centuries.