I have been having this debate with my friend and I cannot find any information regarding the correctness (or incorrectness) of the statement in the title. Is version 1 (below) incorrect grammatically? If so, why? And why would more people agree that version 2 is better than version 1?

  1. I wonder how much would it be ...
  2. I wonder how much it would be ...

I would really appreciate it if anyone can help us understand these nuances. Thank you!!


4 Answers 4


How much would it be? is a question. (1) would only make sense if punctuated to represent speech, where the speaker muses "I wonder..." and then asks the question.

"I wonder... How much would it be...?

  • Ngrams agrees. All the examples with inversion are punctuated with a question mark, and often have quotes and a capital letter. The I wonder part is always very light weight in these occurrences. Wonder seems to mark a rhetorical question in the non-inverted embedded questions, and relies on inversion to strengthen the question. I wondered how I was supposed to put a bolt in a hole that wasn't there (rhetorical). I wondered how was I expected to fix it with the wrong parts? (not so much).
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 19:44

I’d use ‘cost’ instead of ‘be’ with ‘how much’ generally.

Otherwise both would be correct but favoured differently depending on context and stress.

For 1. You wouldn’t necessarily be expecting an answer (at least an exact one) It’s more a speculative question that would include what you are talking about in the second half. ‘It’ undefined until the rest of the question. How much does it [cost] (to buy a Mars bar)? - 70p I wonder, how much would it [cost] to (buy a Ferrari)?‘ - too much

For 2 the topic is in play. The it is defined and the sentence concludes naturally straight away. ‘We should (activity)’ ‘I wonder how much it would [cost].’

Wondering about cost apropos of nothing feels strange so 2 feels more comfortable as you are referring back to the thing being discussed. 1 is still fine though.

  • I'd use "... how much it would be..." as part of a discussion. For instance if my wife and I had been given a higher than expected quote from a kitchen company for a complete refit one of us might say "I wonder how much it would be if we had melamine worktops instead of the granite." However in preliminary discussions before we got the quote we'd probably say "I wonder how much it would cost to have the kitchen refitted". As usual the context changes the preferred wording.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 14:47

I think for us, non-native speakers, it is best to realize that you are actually inserting a question into a statement. You would not say:

I wonder where does he live.


I wonder where he lives.

This seems to be the same, therefore you need to change the word order:

How much would it be?


I wonder how much it would be

  • The complication is that at least in speech, "I wonder – where does he live[?]", with a fragment, is idiomatic. Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 14:58
  • @EdwinAshworth Indeed, but I believe even in speech there is at least a pause or slight change in phrasing so that you "feel" the introduced question.
    – John V
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 8:08
  • Oh certainly; I'm only trying to be comprehensive (impossible as it is with English). The 'embedded question' ('I wonder where he lives' is essentially a reduced form of the question-containing 'I wonder what the answer to the question "Where does he live?" is) standardly has no verb immediately after the wh-word, if, 'how much' etc. Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 11:22

The first example is perfectly normal if you are in a jewelry shop and ask the proprietor, who had just told you the cost of a bracelet:

I wonder how much would it be if this clasp were replaced with one like that one over there.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.