Whether or weather?

07 Sep

I have seen several instances of weather being used for whether recently, so it’s worth setting these down just in case.

Weather as a noun is the state of the atmosphere at a certain time and place – sunny, windy, snowing, hot, cold, etc. To weather (the verb) is to change in appearance or form through long exposure to the weather (more commonly: to be weathered).

Under the weather means unwell or depressed – you’re metaphorically under a cloud of unwellness, I suppose!

Whether is a conjunction expressing …

  • a choice between two alternatives – “I can’t decide whether to go to the cinema or the park”
  • a doubt, either expressing a question or investigation – “I don’t know whether keeping this hat I’ve found is the right thing to do” / “He will check whether she lost a hat”
  • an indication that a statement is true, whichever of the alternatives mentioned is the case “I will go to the cinema whether they’re showing a western or a thriller”

Of course, the two can always be found together: “I’ll go out, whether the weather is sunny or wet”, but hopefully you know the difference now!

Edited to add – my friend, Ian Braisby, just reminded me that a wether is a castrated sheep! So now you know …

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


Posted by on September 7, 2012 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


Tags: , , ,

3 responses to “Whether or weather?

  1. Sandy Millin

    September 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Whether the weather is hot,
    Or whether the weather it not,
    I’ll weather the weather,
    Whatever the weather,
    Whether I like it or not.


  2. Judith

    December 20, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    She worried about whether her wether would weather the weather or whether the wether would die.



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