Whether v. If

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Camilo87

New Member
Spanish
1. Whats the correct conetext to use Whether-If ?
2. How would you said: I am urging her________ a new car
to buy
in buying


Thanks for your help

Moderator Edit: Please ask only one question per each thread opened, and name threads appropriately. To see the thread on to buy vs. in buying, please click HERE.
 
  • stargazer

    Senior Member
    Slovenia, Slovenian
    Hello Camilo87,

    In some cases you can use "whether" or "if", eg. "I asked whether/if she had any letters for me.", "Let me know whether/if you can come or not." (=indirect yes-no questions) But if the indirect question precedes the main clause, you use "whether", "Whether I'll have time I'm not sure at the moment."
    In a formal context you would use "whether" instead of "if".
    After prepositions only "whether" is possible, "There was a big argument about whether we should move to a bigger house."
    "Whether" is used before to-infinitives, "They can't decide whether to get married now or wait."
    (examples from Michael Swan's Practical English Usage)
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    If for conditional ideas: Let me know if you are coming = Let me know only if you are coming.

    Whether for alternatives or possibilities: Let me know whether you are coming = Let me know one way or the other.
     

    alenaro

    Senior Member
    Italian
    What about this sentence:
    The dealer asked Sarah if she was interested in fast cars.

    My British teacher said it would not be ok to turn it into the whether form, but I keep believing it might...

    Thanks in advance for any suggestion
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    :arrow: response to POST #4

    I personally would prefer "whether", since I like the distinction that says you use "whether" for yes-no choices. (I hasten to add that this is a personal preference; if is now considered perfectly acceptable for these questions. :))

    What explanation did your teacher give for rejecting whether? Does he feel that whether must only be used in the phrase "whether or not"?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    What about this sentence:
    The dealer asked Sarah if she was interested in fast cars.

    My British teacher said it would not be ok to turn it into the whether form, but I keep believing it might...

    Thanks in advance for any suggestion
    Hi alenaro

    I think "whether" would be fine in your sentence. Like Cagey, I'd be interested to know why your teacher rejected it.
     

    alenaro

    Senior Member
    Italian
    :arrow: response to POST #4
    Does he feel that whether must only be used in the phrase "whether or not"?
    Yes, that's exactly what he believes in. But I tried to underline that the choice is implied:

    The dealer asked Sarah if she was interested in fast cars (or not).

    Thanks to you too Loob. Finally: would using whether be grammatically correct?
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Yes, that's exactly what he believes in. But I tried to underline that the choice is implied:

    The dealer asked Sarah if she was interested in fast cars (or not).
    I agree with your explanation. I have noticed in the past that often speakers of BrE are uncomfortable with omitting words (ellipsis) in structures where AmE commonly does use ellipsis. Happily, however, Loob agrees with us, so this seems not to be one of those cases.

    Yes, your use would generally be considered perfectly correct, although we may hear from some who agree with your teacher.

    Later additon: From the OED definition of whether:
    By suppression of the second alternative, whether comes to introduce a simple dependent question, and becomes the ordinary sign of indirect interrogation = if.
    The OED has examples of this use that date back to the 1000s. Here is one that doesn't go back quite that far, but is easier to understand:
    1470-85 MALORY Arthur VII. xx. 244 He mette with a poure man..& asked hym whether he mette not with a knyghte.
     
    Last edited:

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I agree with you that "or not" is implied.

    "Whether" seems to me to be perfectly grammatically correct, as Cagey says:)
     

    alenaro

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Ok. I thank the both of you. If you should find any grammatical mistakes in my previous messages please show them to me. I go to sleep.
    One more warning: If I am not wrong he talks more about whether this or that...than whether this or not. Might this make any difference?
     
    Last edited:

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    [....] One more warning: If I am not wrong he talks more about whether this or that...than whether this or not. Might this make any difference?
    Both of these use whether to introduce two alternatives, so they are consistent. The difference is that in "whether this [or not this]" the second choice [not this] can be understood from the context, and does not need to be explained.
     
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