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    #1

    Whether or whether or not

    I am confused about whether. When is it correct to use the phrase whether or not, and when is it correct to just use whether? For example, which of the following sentences is correct?




    I asked him whether I should go.

    I asked him whether or not I should go.

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Whether or whether or not

    Both are possible.

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    #3

    Re: Whether or whether or not

    But when should I choose whether and whether or not?

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    #4

    Re: Whether or whether or not

    If it's clear that it's a simple choice between "yes" and "no" you can omit it.

    I couldn't tell whether he fancied Marcia or not. -- Maybe he liked her. Maybe he did not. Those are your two choices. Here, you can omit "or not."


    I couldn't tell whether he fancied Marcia or Teresa. -- Here the choice is between two women, not "liking Marcia" or "no liking Marcia."
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Whether or whether or not

    Quote Originally Posted by allthewayanime View Post
    But when should I choose whether and whether or not?
    The idea of 'or not' is implicit in 'whether', so there is no need to add it. You might add it if you wish to emphasise that you are fully prepared to follow the negative advice.

    I have added, below, some notes on 'if' and 'whether'. I don't know if/whether they will interest you (or not).

    7.1. IF and WHETHER

    73. I don't know if/whether Mila is coming tomorrow (or not).

    74. I am going out if Mila is coming.

    75.I am going out whether Mila is coming or not.


    At first sight there is little difference in meaning in [73] whether we use IF or WHETHER, though only with the latter does or not have an acceptable alternative position immediately preceding Mila. In [74], however, WHETHER cannot be used, and in [75] most native speakers would find IF unusual. There is clearly, therefore, a difference in meaning between the two words.


    With IF we are considering the uncertainty of a happening or state. This means that we are not certain of its actual happening or state: its non-happening or non-state is a possibility, but that negative situation is not explicitly (or implicitly) considered. Indeed, the negative situation may change the meaning of the utterance as a whole. In [74], the speaker states only that in the event of Mila's coming, he is going out. The implication that in the event of Mila's not-coming the speaker will not go out may be intended by the speaker, or such an inference may be drawn by the listener, but it is impossible to say for sure. We have a double uncertainty: about the happening or state in the IF-clause, and about the consequence stated in the other clause in the event of non-happening or non-state.

    With WHETHER, on the other hand, the negative situation is always implicitly (and often explicitly) stated, and may change the meaning of the utterance as a whole. In [75] there is certainty that the speaker is going out. The single uncertainty is about the happening or state in the WHETHER-clause. The two utterances are fundamentally different in meaning, a necessity highlighted by the need to add or not to the WHETHER-clause [75] and the need not to add it to the IF-clause [74].

    [73] presents a different situation. Here, there is still the same uncertainty about whether Mila is coming. However if the speaker does not know about her coming, then he clearly does not know about her not-coming. Knowing is not a consequence of coming, as opposed to going out in [74], which is a consequence of coming. Thus, while the difference in meaning between IF and WHETHER is the same as ever, the differences in the practical results of the difference in meanings are minimal. This explains why we can use either word in such non-consequential statements, and also why if not is acceptable (or omissible) with both words.

    from: http://www.gramorak.com/Articles/If.pdf

    Last edited by 5jj; 14-Nov-2011 at 21:26. Reason: formatting slips corrected

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    #6

    Re: Whether or whether or not

    Thank you so much.

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