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I'm reading a book and in it , if you briefly give the context, 2 heroes finally confessed their love (present tense).And then, as I understand it, there are the thoughts of a woman :

  • i wondered if this is what love felt like? and if it was ,i did not want it to end

I can't understand the meaning of all these sentences. If i wondered if a polite form that is equal to i wonder if but why then love felt like? And so on and if it was the meaning of this is clear ,but why then i did not want it to end.Isn't it more logical to use present in this sentence? I would be happy to help

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    The word is wondered, not wandered, which has a quite different meaning. dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/wander If the woman is narrating the story, describing events that happened in the past, I would expect her to say "I wondered if this was what love felt like." Mar 28, 2021 at 9:20
  • I have updated the title and the question itself to reflect the correct spelling of wondered.
    – JavaLatte
    Mar 28, 2021 at 9:22
  • @JavaLatte thank you, it was a typo
    – Omegon
    Mar 28, 2021 at 9:25
  • @KateBunting I also think so and therefore I do not understand the meaning of the present tense after wonder if
    – Omegon
    Mar 28, 2021 at 9:27
  • It looks to me as though is is a typo for was (since the next phrase begins 'and if it was'). Mar 28, 2021 at 11:17

2 Answers 2

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wonder is just a normal verb. The present simple is wonder, so you say "I wonder if..." when you are thinking about something right now. The simple past is wondered, so you say "I wondered if" when you were thinking about something at some time in the past.

You can also use the simple past "I wondered if..." to make a polite suggestion, in the same way as you say "could you..." rather than "can you...".

In the sentence that you quoted, "I wondered if" is not a polite form: he or she really is describing a situation in the past when, we assume, he/she was in love for the first time. At the time, he/she wondered whether the feeling he/she was experiencing was like love. And if it was what love felt like, he/she wanted it to continue.

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  • Thank you, I understand what you mean ,but why then after "wonder if" is present but not "i wondered if this was what love"?
    – Omegon
    Mar 28, 2021 at 9:30
  • I have updated my answer.
    – JavaLatte
    Mar 28, 2021 at 9:34
  • Thanks a lot for the help.I understood the way you wrote it,but I still don't understand why in my example, then not "i wondered if this was what love felt like?" Or here I wondered if and + a sentence from the person when she thought, i.e. then I thought "this is what love" i.e. we pass through the present her thoughts then?
    – Omegon
    Mar 28, 2021 at 9:56
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The whole sentence is fine in past tense in a narrative. Unless in dialogue or referring to present events, stories in books are usually told in past tense.

However, there is a mild stylistic blunder in this example, which might be tripping you up. Specifically, "if this is what love felt like" should read "was" instead of "is".

I wondered if this was what love felt like. And if it was, I did not want it to end.

This is a common (and minor) type of mistake that native speakers often make when coordinating tenses. I would guess that it arises from the slight semantic tension: we know, despite the story being told in past tense, that love still feels this way. General observations like that often feel as though they could be in the present tense, but the grammar of the story demands past tense anyway. That probably gives rise to the mismatch of tenses.

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