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 and makes sure that students understand those 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

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 or we need 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 it wouldn’t be correct if they are always used interchangeably.

The Difference between If and Whether – Meanings

Though children have this misconception that both ‘if’ and ‘whether’ can always be used interchangeably. However, it’s not entirely correct. Both these words, though used as conjunctions, have different meanings. On one hand, the term ‘whether’ is used to introduce a formal tone in the sentence and while introducing alternatives, whereas the word ‘if’ is used when there are more than two chances of alternatives or 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 in ‘I don’t know whether I should go to the party’ ‘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.

Examples of If and Whether

The following example will help students understand uses of ‘if’ and ‘whether’ better:

Whether – Harry asked Hermione whether she’d help him study for the exam or not.

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 proper contexts.

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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