Is the word "wanna" (as opposed to "want to") more common in the writing of non-native speakers than in the writing of native speakers of English?

Is this effect more pronounced when you exclude casual conversation, and also exclude quotation of speech?

  • Non-native speakers also seem to use it a lot when speaking.
    – Tristan r
    Jun 12, 2014 at 23:27
  • 5
    The issue here is simply that native speakers understand that things spelled out as for example want to or would have are pronounced differently than written, often as though they were wanna or wooda. Nonnative speakers may not understand this, or think there should be some connection between spelling and pronunciation that simply does not exist in English.
    – tchrist
    Jun 12, 2014 at 23:28
  • 1
    Standard English has a large number of spoken-only contractions. The most notorious is probably the one that replaces "I am going to" in "I am going to go to the store". Jun 13, 2014 at 0:21
  • 1
    My observation is that slang is more common in non-native speakers, and that it is developed through entertainment mediums. I think of it as a cinematic language, and I can pretty much guess their taste in movies or music
    – Third News
    Jun 13, 2014 at 3:38
  • 3
    This is kinda hard to answer.
    – Mitch
    Jun 13, 2014 at 11:44

3 Answers 3


If you look at the dialogs in novels and literature written by English native speakers, rarely do you find "want to" being written as "wanna" or "going to" as "gonna". This is a rule in English writing and most educated native-speakers know that's the "proper" way to write and will stick to it. Unfortunately, many non-native speakers, esp those who learn their English through Hollywood productions, on-line chat or music listening, aren't aware of these subtle differences and will tend to use "wanna" and "gonna" in their writing indiscriminately.


Yes, it is, for the reasons that the commenters stated. Also, they are not aware of the more formal tone/register of much written communication. A third possibility may be the lack of interest or concern for written language itself, if people used to chatting or texting are involved.

  • Can you provide any research or proof to back up your answer, please?
    – Shisa
    Jun 14, 2014 at 12:27

This is a tough question to answer, especially in any evidence-based way.

To me, the answer seems to be "it depends". Contrary to popular sentiment, I have long believed that non-native speakers actually do somewhat better on the more formal form of the language, because that's they way they are taught. Of course, they aren't as familiar with colloquialisms, intricacies of usage and slang.

That being said, if the primary source of learning for the non-native speaker has been Hollywood movies and popular American music, then I suppose (s)he would have some difficulty distinguishing the written from the spoken.

Eitherway, here's what I found on Google Trends:

http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=wanna%2C%20want%20to&geo=US&cmpt=q In the US, wanna searches account for about 33% of want to searches.

44% in UK http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=wanna%2C%20want%20to&geo=GB&cmpt=q

40% in Australia http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=wanna%2C%20want%20to&geo=AU&cmpt=q

38% in Canada http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=wanna%2C%20want%20to&geo=CA&cmpt=q

110% in Gemany http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=wanna%2C%20want%20to&geo=DE&cmpt=q

160% in Turkey http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=wanna%2C%20want%20to&geo=TR&cmpt=q

185% in Brazil http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=wanna%2C%20want%20to&geo=BR&cmpt=q

43% in South Korea http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=wanna%2C%20want%20to&geo=KR&cmpt=q

42% in China http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=wanna%2C%20want%20to&geo=CN&cmpt=q

29% in Nepal http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=wanna%2C%20want%20to&geo=NP&cmpt=q

16% in India http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=wanna%2C%20want%20to&geo=IN&cmpt=q

6% in Ghana http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=wanna%2C%20want%20to&geo=GH&cmpt=q

Not sure if any conclusion can be drawn based on these data.

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