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Difference between " IF " and " WHETHER "


All is in the title !

How can I choose between IF and WHETHER ?

I want to know IF/WHETHER  you're ill  ?

I'm used to use IF everywhere, but I suddenly have a doubt...


Mar 16, 2018 5:52 PM
Comments · 7
Use if for circumstances with only one condition, possibility or option.

-  A mother might tell her son, "You can have dessert if you eat your vegetables."
If the son satisfies the condition “eat the vegetables”, then he can have dessert.
There is only one condition and one reward for meeting the condition.

- I will go to the beach tomorrow if it is sunny.

Use whether when discussing two or more alternatives.

- "I'm not sure whether I know how to use the word 'if' properly."
In this sentence, the alternative, "or not," is implied.

- "I'm not sure whether or not I know how to use the word 'if' properly."
This usage can sound awkward so the implication is sufficient. 

March 16, 2018

Graham, please accept my apology but I have to disagree with you on this one.

You can add "or not" to Shinoda's question using "whether" and it will still make sense.

"I want to know whether you're ill or not?" (meaning - are you ill? or are you pretending to be ill? )

The general rule (there are exceptions)is that we use "whether" when there are two possibilities.

And we use "if" for conditional sentences. 

So, in this case, using "whether" is indeed the correct choice.

March 16, 2018

We will go to the beach if it is sunny.

We will go to the beach whether it is sunny or not.

Do these sentences mean the same thing?

I want to know if/whether (or not) I have to pay to park here.

Basically, if I can add "or not" and it still makes sense then I can use "whether" (so not in this sentence).

March 16, 2018
Thank you all, for your comments. It's more clear know, I know whether I can use If... or not !
March 17, 2018

@ Jerome

I did not say Shinoda could not use "whether" in his question, which he clearly can. I referred to my sentence below.

Basically, if I can add "or not" and it still makes sense then I can use "whether".

I cannot replace the if here with whether. 

March 16, 2018
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