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Sentence Patterns using "I was wondering if..."

This sentence pattern is an indirect way to ask a question. We often use it to ask for help, a favor, or permission to do something. It is more indirect and polite than a question.
  • I was wondering if you could help me carry this bag.
  • I was wondering if I could change to a different hotel room.
We can also use this pattern to indirectly ask a yes/no question.
  • I was wondering if you liked pizza.
  • I was wondering if you wanted to see a movie with me.
After "if" we use past tense verbs because we are using the unreal conditional. This is a reason that this sentence pattern is so indirect and polite. We use "I was wondering..." because I was wondering and now I am actually asking you. Do not worry too much about his. Just focus on the sentence pattern and how it is used. Native speakers do not think about why we use "was" and not "am".

I was wondering if + request
  • I was wondering if I could borrow your car.
  • I was wondering if you could help me with my project.
  • I was wondering if we could switch to an ocean view room.
  • I was wondering if you could fix my car by Friday.
  • I was wondering if you could turn down the volume. It's too loud.
  • I was wondering if it would be okay to ask you a personal question.
  • I was wondering if you could look over this contract with me.
We can also use this to ask for help or a favor from a third person.
  • I was wondering if your brother could give me some financial advice.
  • I was wondering if your company would give me a refund.
  • I was wondering if your dad could give me a job.
We can also ask for a favor or make a request for another person.

Subject + was/were wondering if + request
  • My brother was wondering if you could give him a job.
  • She was wondering if we could help her prepare for the party.
  • They were wondering if it were possible to change the schedule.
Bonus Tips and Points

1. We can use other noun clauses instead of "if". These are not used to ask for a favor or help. These are sentences, but we use them to ask a question in an indirect way.

I was wondering + noun clause
  • I was wondering what you were doing tonight.
    (=What are you doing tonight?)

  • I was wondering who you were talking to.
    (=Who were you talking to?)

  • She was wondering what do with these files.
    (=She wants to know what to do with these files.)

  • They were wondering where you went.
    (=They were curious about where you went.)
Real-World English Conversations

A) I was wondering if you had a few minutes to help me.
B) Of course. I always have time to help you.

A) She was wondering if you wanted to come to her party.
B) Tell her I will come.

A) My mother was wondering if you wanted to come to dinner at our house tonight.
B) I would love to, but I have to work tonight. Tell her I will come another time.

A) I was wondering who you were going choose to be your best man at your wedding.
B) I still haven't decided yet. I'll let you know.

A) I was wondering if I could start work at 10 am instead of 9 am.
B) Our company starting time is 9 am, so all workers are required to be at work by 9.
A) I understand the policy, but I am a single father and I have to take my son to school. So, it is hard for me to get here on time.
B) I see. I will talk with the vice-president about your issue and I will get back to you.

A) I was wondering if you knew where I could get a nice coat at an affordable price.
B) You should try the clothing store on 5th street. I can't remember the name, but it is next to the bank. I will look it up for you.
A) Thanks.

Study these free English lessons to improve your English speaking. If you learn these common sentence patterns well, then your English speaking will improve greatly and you will be able to have fluent conversations in English in the near future! Study the lessons well, practice using them at home and in real life, and make sure to come back to review the material so you do not forget.

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