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Whether /ˈweðə(r)/ is an English subordinating conjunction.[1]

Meaning[edit | edit source]

Whether is used to state which of two options is being referred to.

Form[edit | edit source]

Whether is used to introduce an indirect question that consists of multiple alternative possibilities, usually as a correlative conjunction with or. For example:

  • He chose the correct answer, but I don't know whether it was by luck or (whether it was) by skill.
  • Whether or not you’re successful, you can be sure you did your best.

Whether is also used without a correlative or, to introduce a simple indirect question. For example, Do you know whether he’s coming? In this case, it can be substituted with if, e.g. Do you know if he’s coming?

Finally, whether is used to introduce a disjunctive adverbial clause which qualifies the main clause of the sentence (with correlative or). For example, He’s coming, whether you like it or not. In this usage, the correlative or is required.

Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

With the whine-wine merger, whether is a homophone with weather and wether (a castrated sheep).

Non-rhotic speakers will not pronounce the final /r/ unless before a vowel sound; rhotic speakers will.

References[edit | edit source]