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  1. Is there a difference between (a) 'leave somebody wondering' and (b) 'make somebody wonder'? If so, what difference?

  2. Is there some difference in aspect?
    For example, does 'leave somebody wondering' somehow imply that the wondering happens after a certain action, while 'make somebody wonder' implies that the wondering happens during a certain action?

  • It's all a matter of opinion what if any different nuance might be implied (or understood), but I don't think your distinction is very likely. Often, if you do something that leaves him wondering... the implication (of something being left [over]) is that whatever you did was intended to clarify matters, but failed to fully achieve its purpose. Conversely, if what you did made him wonder, that's more likely to be an almost irrelevant side-effect that you never thought of at the time of doing whatever it was. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 2 '16 at 18:45
  • "Conversely, if what you did made him wonder, that's more likely to be an almost irrelevant side-effect that you never thought of at the time of doing whatever it was." Do you mean that the wondering is an almost irrelevant side effect? – Sash Feb 2 '16 at 18:51
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    Sash: Bear in mind these are at best faint "nuances", that wouldn't necessarily be either intended by the speaker or understood by the audience (to a first approximation, the two forms just mean the same thing). But if I've left you wondering what I'm banging on about here, that might imply I've failed in my objective (which was to enlighten you). On the other hand, if I've made you wonder, that probably doesn't mean you're wondering what I'm actually trying to say - more likely it's just set off a train of thought that raises some other (related) question in your mind. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 2 '16 at 18:58
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I would not say that there is a difference in aspect per se, but the phrases would be used in different situations. The more common phrase would be "make someone wonder" which, as FumbleFingers phrased very well, would "set off a train of thought". I think most commonly one would say: "It makes me wonder [what he has been up to exactly]."

To "leave someone wondering" is a less common idiomatic expression which, to me anyway, implies that a person has intentionally left a situation or relationship ambiguous and that the ambiguity will, most likely, never be resolved: "I thought at first that we were hitting it off, but she left me wondering." (To use the other phrase: "It makes me wonder how things really stand between us.") I suppose it could refer to unintentional ambiguity as well, but in that case, I would more likely say "left me confused" or "left me completely lost". I hope this answer didn't leave you confused.

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