“If” vs. “Whether”

The distinction between if and whether is interesting and important, but not many people know or observe the distinction. However, using if and whether correctly is essential for clarity in writing and speaking.

The word if should be used only to introduce a conditional statement.

The word whether should be used when you are discussing a choice to be made.

Consider the difference between the following two sentences:

“I know that if I eat this large pizza with peppers and anchovies right before bed, I’ll probably have some strange dreams and feel bad tomorrow.”

“I can’t decide whether to eat this large pizza with peppers and anchovies, or just go straight to bed.”

In contrast, the incorrect usage would be to say “I can’t decide if I’m going to eat this large pizza…”

If you have trouble telling the difference, look to see if there’s a then to go with the if — is there a result that will happen if the if is fulfilled? If so, use if, and if you’re discussing a choice to be made, use whether.

Knowing the proper grammatical use of words can help you in daily life, in your professional life, and on the SAT, ACT, GMAT, and GRE. If you are planning to take any of these tests, contact Bobby Hood Test Prep for more information!

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