Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Verb collocations can be very tricky!

When it comes to the verb ‘wait’, this is the episode you’ve been waiting for!

There is more flexibility in American English than in British English when talking about things you are waiting for.

Today, Lindsay and Aubrey share with you how to use ‘wait on’ and ‘wait for.’

You can then use this verb with multiple prepositions to sound native and natural!

Grammar advice online

You have to be careful when seeking English grammar answers online.

When googling about today’s topic, Aubrey found a lot of conflicting advice.

This makes her excited to clarify the debate for you.

Lindsay is intrigued by this and asks why there is a debate.

Aubrey explains that grammarians often disagree about grammar structures.

Learning a language can be tricky and there will always be different teachings, especially online.

English can have confusing rules because there are numerous English-speaking countries with their own rules.

What are you waiting for?

To begin the topic for today’s episode, Lindsay asks Aubrey if she is waiting for something today.

Aubrey shares that she is waiting on an Amazon package.

She ordered something for her kids and is hoping it arrives on time.

In Lindsay’s question, she used the phrasal verb ‘wait for.’

A listener sent in a related question.

What’s the difference between ‘waiting for’ something and ‘waiting on’ something?

And what is the best way of using them in daily conversations?

My name is Ali from Roseville, CA and I listen to your podcast while commuting 👍

‘Waiting for’ versus ‘waiting on’

Lindsay and Aubrey acknowledge that it can be confusing to know which to use.

When you go online and try to Google, there will be conflicting answers.

Some definitions and examples shared by Lindsay and Aubrey will clarify this.

#1: ‘Wait on’ as serving someone

Some would say that ‘wait on’ only means to serve someone and it can’t be used any other way.

The definition of ‘wait on’ meaning serving someone is mostly used in British English.

You can listen to past episodes of All Ears English with British guests who shared more about how they speak English.

AEE 122: Luke’s English Podcast and How to Be Funny in English

AEE 1853: Charlie Baxter from British English Podcast on How to Reconnect with Your Creativity

Here are some examples:

  • The attendant will bring me clothes I want to try on. She is waiting on me.
  • The waiters are waiting on us at the restaurant.

#2: ‘Wait on’ is the same as ‘wait for’

‘Wait on’ can be used in different ways in American English.

In some regional dialects, it is also used to mean ‘to serve.’

It can also be interchangeable with ‘wait for.’

Here are some examples:

  • I’m waiting on my mom. She’s late.
  • We’re waiting for appetizers.

You have some flexibility with these so you can make your conversation more interesting.

#3: ‘Wait on’ means to delay or postpone something

To use ‘wait on’ in this definition is common in Business English.

It is also used in American English.

You can use it when having conversations regarding work timelines with your colleagues or officemates.

Here are some examples:

  • We’re going to wait on this project until we’re ready.
  • Let’s wait on that. Let’s hold off on this project.

#4 – ‘Wait for’ indicating you expect something to happen

When using this, Aubrey shared that it can often be heard in an expression used to indicate suspense.

You can see the example below to see what she meant:

  • I have to tell you what happened yesterday. Wait for it…. I got the job!


Lindsay and Aubrey share a roleplay to help you better understand how to use these.

In this scenario, Lindsay runs into Aubrey standing in front of a movie theater.

They then greeted each other and started a conversation.

Lindsay: Who are you waiting on?

Aubrey: My mom! We’re going to see a flick together. I’ve been waiting for a while though… I should probably text her. What movie are you seeing?

Lindsay: I’m not sure! I’m waiting for a friend and I’ll let her pick.


Learning a new language is definitely challenging.

English can be different depending on the type of English you use and where you are.

If you search online for answers to your grammar and sentence structure questions, you may find conflicting information.

This can add to your burden in learning the language.

The best way to decide on the correct way is to get the perspective of an insider.

If you are learning American English, a native speaker from the U.S. can better help you with how they say it.

Take charge of your own learning and reach out to people like Lindsay and Aubrey when roadblocked.

The All Ears English team teaches real American English and they would be more than happy to help you end your confusion and reach your full potential.

What else do you find confusing in English?

Share it in the comments below and we might use it for a topic in one of our podcasts.

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