If or Whether

If or Whether


If and whether are conjunctions.

If should be used to introduce a condition and whether in all other circumstances.

E.g. If you sing, I will play the piano.

Or, Whether I decide to go for the party or not, depends on the weather.

If and whether are sometimes interchangeable, but that is not always the case.

E.g.

On reaching the mall, Nalini wondered if she had switched off the iron.

Or, On reaching the mall, Nalini wondered whether she had switched off the iron.

If is used to introduce a condition in a conditional sentence. The condition has to be satisfied before something else takes place.

E.g. The father reassured his little daughter that he would catch her if she fell.

Or, If you decide to go for the holiday, I will give you some money.

Whether is used to present two alternatives of which neither of the two are alternatives.

E.g. Let Preeti know whether you need a change in your flight detail.

Or, Let Preeti know if you need a change in your flight detail.

The second sentence is not grammatically incorrect but it does not mean the same as the first one.

Whether is also used after prepositions.

E.g.

We should talk about whether we should go to Manali or Shimla for our next summer holiday.

Or, We should talk about if we should go to Manali or Shimla for our next summer holiday.

The second sentence means that the talk should be whether they should take a summer holiday or not. It does not mean the same as the first sentence.

Whether is also used before infinitives:

E.g. Mother has been discussing with the gardener whether it will be better for her to grow her own winter vegetables this year.

Or, Mother has been discussing with the gardener if it will be better for her to grow her own winter vegetables this year.

Please note: Always choose whether instead of if while writing formally.

Test your understanding - Choose the correct sentence from the pair of sentences given below

1.
a. We scrutinised carefully to check if there were any mistakes.
b. We scrutinised carefully to check whether there were any mistakes.

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ANSWER: b. We scrutinised carefully to check whether there were any mistakes.



2.
a. A committee, headed by a Director, to determine whether the anticipated funding is appropriate, must be established.
b. A committee, headed by a Director, to determine if the anticipated funding is appropriate, must be established.

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ANSWER: a. A committee, headed by a Director, to determine whether the anticipated funding is appropriate, must be established.



3.
a. If Pooja decides not to attend class today due to her illness, it is fine.
b. Whether Pooja decides not to attend class today due to her illness, it is fine.

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ANSWER: a. If Pooja decides not to attend class today due to her illness, it is fine.



4.
a. If you tear up the letter, it will be your loss.
b. Whether you tear up the letter, it will be your loss.

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ANSWER: a. If you tear up the letter, it will be your loss.



5.
a. I doubt whether the Indian cricket will be successful in the next World Cup.
b. I doubt if the Indian cricket will be successful in the next World Cup.

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ANSWER: a. I doubt whether the Indian cricket will be successful in the next World Cup.


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