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Uses of 'whether'

Mark Skype Teacher

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Hi all, I hope all is OK!

I just wanted to clarify if there were any other uses of 'whether'.

I know 'whether' can mean 'if'... for example: 'whether it rains or not, I will take my umbrella' or 'I'm staying here, whether you do or not'.

Is it right to translate 'whether' with just 'if'?

Many thanks!

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Not entirely, I think. 'Whether' has two arguments, usually opposites. "Whether it rains or not, I'm walking to town". 'If' can have just one argument: "If it rains, I'm taking the bus to town."

And I suppose 'if' also can have more than two arguments: "If it is raining and there's a strong wind and the temperature is below 15 degrees C, I will take a taxi to town."

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Hi Daedalus

Thanks for your response.

I agree with your 2nd point entirely.

As for the first point: I think 'if' can have 2 sides to it. e.g. 'If (whether) the plane crashes or not, I won't be scared'.

I know in wordreference, whether is translated in one entry by 'si'. Any other comments or clarification would be most appreciated. All the best.

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Oh yeah, 'if' certainly can have 2 sides as well.

I think that 'if' signifies a condition that must be met before the rest of the sentence is true. So the outcome of somebody saying 'if' doesn't necessarily happen. "If it rains, I will take the bus," but what if it does not rain?

'Whether' feels to me more like 'regardless'. The outcome of the sentence is fixed. The person's mind is made up and nothing can change it. "Whether or not it rains, I will walk."

You can use 'if' for contradicting conditions, but to me, it doesn't feel quite right: "If it rains or not..." I guess it's possible, but I can't help but think that 'whether' would be more suitable in that sentence.

On a side note, as a programmer, I am used to working with many logic 'boolean' if-statements. You use if-statements to check for very specific program states or variables. These can be very extensive (for example, in a bounding box collision detection, you check if 4 specific conditions are true) or very simple, but you will never use it to check if a condition is either true or false, like you would with 'whether', simply because it doesn't make sense. Any given condition is always either true or false, so there's never any need to specifically check for it. So while the if-statement is heavily used in software, there's no such thing as a 'whether-statement'.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Whether" and "If" are two different things, means that they share different meaning in English language. "Whether" is use when you actually giving two options, which you are asking the person or being asked that you have to pick one or another. "If", in my own opinion, tells about what will happen when you do or don't do certain things. It means something can happen, like the possibility to happen when you use the word "if".

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