Grammar and Usage Post

"If" vs. "Whether": Do you know (if/whether) you understand the difference?

(The correct word choice for the title is below.)

These days, the word “if” is often incorrectly substituted for of the word “whether”.  

Here’s the rule:  The word “if” should be used in preparation for 1 scenario only.

For example:

"If it rains, then the game will be cancelled."  (the 1 scenario = it rains)
"I will go home early if the game is cancelled."  (the 1 scenario = the game is cancelled)

However, if the sentence refers to both scenarios (in this case, the game is either cancelled or not cancelled) then the word “whether” is the correct choice.

For example:

"I don’t know whether the game will be cancelled" = correct
"I don’t know if the game will be cancelled" = incorrect
"I will be there whether or not the game is cancelled." = correct


(correct word choice for the title:  "whether")


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