I am quite confused about the differences between "I wonder", "I wondered", "I am wondering" and "I was wondering".

  1. I wonder if you are still interested in the class.
  2. I am wondering if you are still interested in the class.
  3. I wondered whether or not you are still interested in the class.
  4. I was wondering whether you are still interested in the class.

Also, are "if" or "whether" the same in this context? Do you need to add "or not" after "whether"? Do you use (.) or (?) at the end of the sentences? If you use "wondered" and "was wondering", do you need to use past tense for the whole sentence (i.e., you were still interested)?

Thank you very much.

  • 2
    You shouldn't get too concerned with the idea of "grammatical correctness" in this context. It's really just irrelevant "circumlocution / noise words", usually intended to place some "distance" between the speaker and what he's actually saying. In your example, what's actually being asked is simply Are you still interested in the class? No-one really cares whether you "wondered" about the answer to that question before actually asking it. If you want to engage in circumlocution, you might wish to use the pointlessly longer verb forms. But I advise against this. Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 12:35

1 Answer 1


FumbleFingers comment is the best advice: All of these constructions can be improved by getting straight to the point. But to answer your questions directly:

  • No, you don't need to include "or not" because your question allows only two possibilities. ("Do you prefer the red flower or the blue?": clarification needed.)
  • "Whether" might be a shade more correct than "if" since you're wondering, but "wonder if" is a common usage. (If we're going to get that particular about usage, then "I was wondering whether you..." would suggest "were" rather than "are" for the subjunctive... but if we cared that much, we should take FumbleFingers suggestion and drop all the wondering.)
  • No, putting your wondering in the past doesn't have to imply that the other person's interest is in the past. ("I noticed yesterday that it will rain today.")
  • You could be strictly grammatically correct by ending these sentences with periods, since they boil down to "I wonder." But in informal writing I often end such sentences with a question mark since they are inquisitive in nature and imply a question. ("Hm... I think something's wrong?")
  • None of your examples contains a glaring error or would be hard to understand, though "I am wondering" sounds a bit stilted and "I'm wondering" would be more common.

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