Whether vs If – What’s the difference?

There are many words in the English language that often create confusion, and people end up making silly errors. The difference between the two words, if and whether, is a good example of this situation.

Whether vs If - What's the difference?

The words whether and if are very commonly used interchangeably. While they may be interchangeable because of their similar character regarding the meaning, in some cases, only one can stand correct, and the other cannot. There is a slight difference between the two.

Whether and if usually depict the same thing in informal writing. However, in formal writing, the word whether is mainly used when there is a yes or a no question. Above that, it is used when there is a possibility of two alternatives.

For example:

  • I don’t know whether John will arrive on Tuesday.
  • Tell the principal whether you need a break.
  • I wonder whether it will rain today.

If, on the other hand, is mainly used when we want to introduce a conditional clause. That means with if, we provide a condition in the sentence.

For example:

  • If it rains tomorrow, we will miss classes.
  • Please let me know if you need any help.

Now, if we take an example like;

  • Let me know whether you need help.
  • Let me know if you need help.

In the first sentence, there is a possibility of your needing help or not. In either case, you can inform. But in the second sentence, you must ask for help only when needed. That is the main difference between the two.

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