Meaning of whether by Wiktionary Dictionary
- ( obsolete ) Introducing a direct interrogative question ( often with correlative or ) which indicates doubt between alternatives.
- 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Mark II:
- 1616, William Shakespeare, King John, I.i:
- Used to introduce an indirect interrogative question that consists of multiple alternative possibilities ( usually with correlative or ) .
- Without a correlative, used to introduce a simple indirect question; if, whether or not .
- Used to introduce a disjunctive adverbial clause which qualifies the main clause of the sentence ( with correlative or ) .
- There is some overlap in usage between senses 2 and 3, in that a yes-or-no interrogative content clause can list the two possibilities explicitly in a number of ways:
- Do you know whether he's coming or staying?
- Do you know whether he's coming or not?
- Do you know whether or not he's coming?
- Sense 4 does not have a counterpart that introduces only a single possibility; *"He's coming, whether you like it" is ungrammatical .
- In traditional grammar, the clauses headed by whether in senses 2 and 3 are classified as noun clauses, and those headed by whether in sense 4 are classified as adverb clauses .