"whether or not" vs "whether" alone

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perception77

New Member
français - France
Hello,
in a scientific article I wrote :
"An affordance is not a mental construct. It exists whether or not it is perceived. Being grounded in the physical description of the agent-environment system, an affordance is as real as the objects and agent it characterizes."
The editorial team changed the second sentence to "It exists whether it is perceived".
I am not familiar with this structure and I would like to be sure that it carries the same meaning (and the same emphasis) as my original sentence.
Does the new formulation sounds right (and clear) to your ears (or eyes) or should I change it back to what I initially wrote ?
Thank you for your help !
 
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Welcome to the forum!

    There are many threads on this issue which you can find by typing "whether not" in the search box at the top of the page (that box is not just a dictionary).

    Many of those threads suggest that the "or not" can often be left out. However, in your example, I find that the result of omitting it sounds quite odd to my ears. Perhaps it is because it is not immediately obvious what the contrasting possibility actually is - whether it is perceived or not perceived, vs. whether it is perceived or imagined, vs. whether it is perceived or denied etc. Here your intended meaning was rendered unclear by the deletion. I recommend restoring it.
     
    Last edited:

    perception77

    New Member
    français - France
    Welcome to the forum!

    There are many threads on this issue which you can find by typing "whether not" in the search box at the top of the page (that box is not just a dictionary).

    Many of those threads suggest that the "or not" can often be left out. However, in your example, I find that the result of omitting it sounds quite odd to my ears. Perhaps it is because it is not immediately obvious what the contrasting possibility actually is - whether it is perceived or not perceived, vs. whether it is perceived or imagined, vs. whether it is perceived or denied etc. Here your intended meaning was rendered unclear by the deletion. I recommend restoring it.
    You're so fast, thank you !
    I checked the threads you mentioned.
    I feel bad that I asked the same question again.
    Nevertheless, thank you for giving me your own view.
    I will follow your advice and restore it.
     
    Last edited:

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    In some instances, "whether" and "whether or not" are interchangeable, and many people opt for the shorter "whether", dropping the "or not". Example: I haven't decided whether [or not] I'll go shopping today.

    But that doesn't apply in your situation; the "or not" is absolutely necessary.
     

    lixiaohejssz

    Senior Member
    We know whether or not is correct. But many teachers in China who teach English think "whether ...or not" can't be replaced by "if...or not". Have they made a mistake?
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    The editorial team changed the second sentence to "It exists whether it is perceived".
    Hello perception77, and Welcome to the Forum! :)

    This construction may have worked in Shakespeare's day, but using today would leave readers baffled.

    "It exists regardless of whether it is perceived" = 'It exists whether or not it is perceived' - just to demonstrate that something is missing. :)
     

    perception77

    New Member
    français - France
    Thank you Parla and Beryl from Northallerton for sharing your views.
    It's great to receive so much help!
    It definitely makes me feel like doing the same.
     
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