Difference between If and Whether | If vs Whether

Most students have faced problems while using these subordinating conjunctions, and most of the time, they’ve ended up using it in the incorrect way. But if you want to use these words in the right way, you need to go through this article. The article holds up all points of difference (if present) and makes sure that students understand them and do not get confused while using them.

The English Language appears to be confusing to many because of words like these. Most students don’t know the exact meaning of these words that are either homophones or appear to have the same meaning. After reading this article, students will understand when and where to use the words ‘if’ and ‘whether’. Let us discuss the following points of differences between these two:

  • Table Summarising the Difference between If and Whether.
  • The Difference between If and Whether – Meaning.
  • Example of If and Whether.
  • If and Whether.- Conclusion

Table Summarising the Difference between If and Whether

If

Whether

Meaning

The word If is used when conditions are introduced in a sentence and more than two options are given.

The word Whether is used when there are two alternatives and to introduce a formal tone.

Usage

It is used as a Conjunction.

It is used as a Conjunction.

Example

If you win the match, you’ll get a bicycle.

Do you know whether it will rain or not?

This table shows that ‘if’ and ‘whether’ can’t be treated as synonymous and can be used interchangeably at times. Once students get familiar with this, it becomes easy for them to use. Even though both are used as conjunctions, they have entirely different meanings and wouldn’t be correct if always used interchangeably.

The Difference between If and Whether – Meaning

Though children have this misconception that both ‘if’ and ‘whether’ can always be used interchangeably, it’s not entirely correct. Both these words, though used as conjunctions, have different meanings. On the one hand, the term ‘whether’ is used to introduce a formal tone to the sentence and in the case of alternatives. Whereas the word ‘if’ is used when there are more than two chances of alternative or when giving conditions. For example, “If Mira studies well, her parents promised her a laptop.” Here, ‘if’ is used to show that Mira’s parents promised her a gift on the condition that she studies well. Whereas “I don’t know whether I should go to the party.” Here, ‘whether’ is used to show that there are two alternatives, i.e. either I go to the party or I don’t go to the party. Once students catch this point of difference, it will be easy for them to use these conjunctions correctly.

Example of If and Whether

The following example will help students understand ‘if’ and ‘whether’ better.

Whether – Harry asked Hermione whether she’d help him study for the exam.

If – There is a high chance that if you select your answer from the remaining three options, your answer will be correct.

Once students understand the difference between the words ‘if’ and ‘whether’, it’ll be easier for them to apply these words in the proper context.

If and Whether – Conclusion

In conclusion, the words ‘if’ and ‘whether’ aren’t synonymous but can be used interchangeably at times. This article points out how ‘if’ and ‘whether’ are different from one another. BYJU’S offers various articles on many such ‘differences between two words’ that people often get confused with.

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