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I am studying for an English test and there was an exercise as follows:

  • Complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first sentence, using the word given. Do not change the word given.

a) I might possibly go to the theatre tonight. word given: wondering

My answer: I am wondering whether I am going to the theatre tonight.

Correct answer: I was wondering about going to the theatre tonight.

Can anyone please explain what is wrong with the structure I've used? Thanks in advance.

  • Your answer isn't "wrong", per se, but "wondering whether I will or will not do X" is a bit odd, because "wondering" implies uncertainty, and whether "I will or will not do X" is a decision completely under your control. You can wonder whether Vicky will go to the theater tonight (because that's a decision in her control, and not in yours), or wonder whether you will pass your exams (because while you can do your best, the decision isn't yours alone; there's no guarantee). In contrast, "wondering about" is vaguer, more like "mulling" or "considering" (and less like "wondering whether"). – Dan Bron Jan 11 '17 at 12:33
  • The ‘correct’ answer is quite odd. “I was wondering about going to the theatre tonight” is not something I can imagine any native speaker saying. Yours is odd as well, since it sounds like you’re unsure of, and puzzled by, the factuality of you going to the theatre tonight, when what you’re aiming for is that you’re trying to decide whether to go or not. It would sound more natural to say, “I was wondering whether to go (or whether I might/should go) to the theatre tonight”. That certainly sounds more natural to me than the ‘correct’ answer. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 11 '17 at 12:37
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    @JanusBahsJacquet Really? The construction "wondering about" is completely normal to me. It has tones of "considering, mulling, going over in my head in a vague way". Maybe it's an AmE thing? The key is that "wondering about" implies there are a lot of questions to answer, or considerations to be taken into account, before the decision can be made, and in contrast "wondering whether" sounds like all that's being evaluated is the boolean decision. – Dan Bron Jan 11 '17 at 12:40
  • @DanBron I would say that wonder about is more like ‘doubting’ or ‘being sceptical about’; “I was wondering about going to the theatre tonight” to me sounds like the notion of going to the theatre tonight as a whole is something that I consider a bit sketchy and don’t really trust the veracity of. It sounds quite bizarre to me, but perhaps that’s just me; or perhaps it is a BrE vs AmE thing. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 11 '17 at 12:40
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    @DanBron Not just AmE. "I was wondering about going to the theatre" would work in BrE too. "Do you want to come clubbing tonight?" "Well, I was wondering [or I'm wondering] about going to the theatre." I think normally it would imply that the consideration is tending to vote against; that example would probably be followed by "...but I do with some loud music; why not?" – Andrew Leach Jan 11 '17 at 12:53
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I actually don't like the question. It's not clear if it's your choice to go to the theatre or if it's based off external circumstances (for example, getting tickets). And the fact it says a "similar meaning" opens the door for more ambiguity.

If you're still undecided whether to go or not, "wondering" is not the word I (nor most people) would use:

If it's not your choice, then I (as a native English speaker) would probably use something like "I'm wondering if I'm going to the theatre tonight".

Your answer is close to my answer, but you use the word "whether", which should be used when you're explicitly outlining at least two choices. It would be correct to say "I am wondering whether to go to the theatre or not tonight".

That being said, the biggest problem with the "correct" answer is it implies I was wondering... but not anymore. In the original, you still don't know if you're going or not.

The "wondering about going" part isn't technically wrong. Here is some random college website that uses the phrase.

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