Wander around

To wander around is to move around a place in a casual, aimless manner

Today's story: Indoor malls
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Wander around

“Wander around.” This is a great phrasal verb to know.

To wander around is to move around a place in a casual, aimless manner. When you wander around, you don’t have a specific direction or purpose. You’re moving at a leisurely pace. You’re not looking at your watch. You’re not on a deadline. You don’t have a planned route.

When you wander around, the goal, the purpose is the movement, the exploration, the discovery; there’s no destination. And the key with “wander around” is that it’s a physical place. You can’t “wander around” a website. If you use “wander around,” you have to refer to a physical place.

When I travel, I often go to cities. And when I get to a new city, I always take some time on the first day to just wander around. I just did this in Oaxaca, a city in the south of Mexico. My flight got there around noon. I settled into my room. And then I wandered around for a few hours.

I walked around leisurely. I let my curiosity be my guide. I didn’t follow a route. I didn’t look at a map. I didn’t have a destination in mind. The whole goal, the whole purpose, was to walk wherever my curiosity took me. That’s “wander around.”

Often in the movies—does this happen in real life? I’m not sure—anyway, in the movies, if someone has a lot on their mind, they often wander around their own city at night. They walk around the streets—not with a destination in mind, but just for the sake of walking. I don’t do that. If I have a lot on my mind and I can’t sleep, I just toss and turn for hours. Maybe I should wander around a little bit to clear my head.

You can wander around inside, too. I like to wander around a bookstore. Bookstores are designed for people to wander around. There are so many sections. There are special displays. There are places to sit. There’s always something to discover. If you like to read, you can wander around the bookstore for a few minutes or a few hours. You go from here to there, you stop, you read a little, you let your eyes scan the shelves, you walk slowly, you go back and check something you saw before. This is wander around.

When I go shopping—if it’s not for books—I’m an in-and-out kind of a shopper. I don’t like to wander around the mall . It stresses me out. I want an objective. I want to go the store I need to go to. I want to get my stuff. And then I want to leave. I don’t like to wander around the mall.

But the mall was built for wandering, it was built for people who do like to wander around. There are lots of corridors. The escalators lead you to new places. There are fountains and food courts and entertainment and special displays. Every store has something different. If you like shopping, you might like to wander around the mall—you might even wander around for a few hours and not buy anything. Not my kind of entertainment, but maybe it’s yours.

You can wander around an office. If you work in a big office, you can walk up and down the corridors, go to different floors, chat with people, network. I just finished the Walter Isaacson biography of Elon Musk. And the book talks about how Musk likes to wander around the Tesla and SpaceX factories, talking to the engineers. He wanders around—he casually goes from place to place, talking to his employees.

Where else can you wander around? You can wander around a museum. If it’s a small museum, I like to go in order, I want a strategy. I’ll go room to room. But sometimes if the museum is really big, I like to wander around…to walk around without a strategy or plan.

You can wander around a park, a playground, or a zoo. I told you about my trip to Oaxaca. I went to the botanic gardens there. Typically, you can wander around the botanic gardens. But this one was different. This was a guided tour. You have to follow the path; you have to follow the tour guide. You’re not allowed to wander around.

See you next time!

And that is all for today’s Plain English. Nice job, you’ve got a new expression, a new phrasal verb to use. And you can practice using it, too, and get direct, personal, human feedback from me if you want to. It’s all at PlainEnglish.com. Right on the page with the transcript of this episode, there’s a practice area. You just write a sentence using “wander around,” and I’ll read it and give you feedback. If you have any questions, you can ask me directly in there, too.

The transcript part is free. The personal feedback on your writing is one of the benefits of Plain English Plus+. Make all your mistakes right there, in the web site, so that when you go out in the real world, you’re equipped, you’re confident, you’re prepared to use “wander around” and the hundreds of other expressions at PlainEnglish.com

That’s all for today. We’ll be back on Thursday with part two of today’s story. See you then.

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Story: Indoor malls