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Tip 56: Whether or If?

Use ‘whether’ when there is an alternative involved . . .

  • I can’t decide whether I should leave or stay.
  • Can you tell me whether you intend to pay me? (The alternative is not to pay me.)
  • Use a moisture analyser to visually indicate whether the dehydrator is functioning within its designed range.
In most cases, do not use ‘or not’ with ‘whether.’ It is redundant.
  • Please tell me whether or not you are staying for lunch.
  • Whether or not the printer is working will determine how much work we get done.
Use ‘if’ to express a condition.
  • If you aren’t going, I’ll just stay home.
  • If thrust moves to the negative, slowly close the ball valve.
  • Fuel gas pressure will eventually be lost if total gas flow is isolated through the JT valve.