Lesson 7a - Whether , part 1

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Lesson 7a - Whether , part 1


Part 1, Watch and listen

Right now I’m going to give you a look into my bedroom closet.

As you can see, it’s a double closet.

I have one side, and my husband has the other.

But I have more clothes than he does.

So whether he likes it or not, I use his side of the closet, too.

Actually, the only thing my husband complains about is that I have some things that are very old and out-of-fashion.

It’s true. I have sweatshirts that are at least 10 years old.

But if you take care of things, they can last a long time, right?

One problem I have is deciding what to wear for special event.

For example, it’s hard to decide whether to wear dress pants like these or a skirt.

And when you don’t know if it will be warm or cool, you ask yourself,

“Should I take a sweater?”
“Will the sweater go with my skirt?”

Okay. So maybe these are doubts that only women experience.

But don’t men face fashion dilemmas sometimes? I think they do.

Don’t you guys sometimes need a minute to decide whether you should put on a tie for a special event?

And then if you choose to wear a tie, I think you need another minute or two to choose the color.

I think we all want to dress nicely whether it’s to impress others or simply feel good about the way we look.

How well did you understand?

Let’s check and see. Check 1.

Jennifer said: “I have more clothes than (my husband) does, so whether he likes it or not, I use his side of the closet, too.”

Question: If Jennifer’s husband doesn’t like this situation, will Jennifer agree not to use his side of the closet?

No. “Whether or not” means he can like the situation or not like the situation. It doesn’t matter to Jennifer.

She will continue to use his side of the closet in any case.

Check 2.

Jennifer said: “If you take care of things, they can last a long time.”

Question: Can “if” in this statement be replaced with “whether”?

No. “Whether” is often replaced by “if” in everyday English, but you cannot use “whether” in conditional statements.

Note the statement:

If you take care of things, they can last a long time.

The first part is a condition. The second part is a result.

When you have a condition, then you get a result. This is a conditional statement.

You can not use the word “whether” to express in the same relationship, so this statement below is incorrect.

You can not say “Whether you take care of things, they can last a long time.”

It doesn’t make sense, you must use “if” and conditional statement.

Check 3.

Jennifer said: It’s hard to decide whether to wear dress pants or a skirt.”

Question: Can “whether” in this statement be replaced with “if”?

No. “Whether” is often replaced by “if” in everyday English, but you cannot use “if” before an infinitive such as “to wear” (and infinitive is to plus base verb).

It’s correct to say “whether to wear”. It’s incorrect to say “if to wear”.

Check 4.

Jennifer said: “When you don’t know if it will be warm or cool, you ask yourself, “Should I take a sweater?”

Question: Can “if” in this statement be replaced with “whether”?

Yes. “Whether” is often replaced by “if” in everyday English to express two alternatives.

Please note these two alternatives in this clause:

When you don’t know if it will be warm or cool..

These two alternatives are:

It may be warm.
It may be cool.

It’s also correct to say:

When you don’t know whether it will be warm or cool..

Now some grammar sources say that only “whether” is the correct word to express these two altenatives, but more and more everyday English that speak coming standard is to use “if”.

But according to traditional grammar rules, “if” is only used to make a conditional statement.

And we can use “whether” to express two “possibilities” and two alternatives in cases and certainties.

And that’s why often see “whether” following phrases like “I don’t know…” or “I wonder…”. They express some certainties.

Check 5:

Jennifer said: “Don’t you guys sometimes need a minute to decide whether you should put on a tie for a special event?”

Question: Can “whether or not” be used in places of simply “whether”?

Yes. “Whether or not” expresses two possible alternatives, but “or not” is usually not necessary to include.

Note the meaning of the phrase:

To decide whether you should put on a tie, mean:

1. You can choose to put on tie

2. You can choose not to put on a tie.

It’s also correct to say:

To decide “whether or not” you should put on a tie.

All of these correct:

To decide whether you should put on a tie

To decide whether or not you should put on a tie

To decide whether you should put on a tie or not.

Note:

“Whether (you) like it or not,…” is a set expression. You must use “or not”. You cannot simply say “Whether you like it…”.

This is the part of the last statement.

We can use it in different situations, that means, give you two common ones.

 The first is a situation when you try to express something is going to happen and no one can change it.

“Hey, whether you like it or not, things change. Nothing stays the same.”

Second situation: It’s one of defiance meaning, you want to do something and you intend to do something, and no one or nothing can stop you, no one or nothing can change your mind.

“Whether you like it or not, this is what I’m going to do!” is the statement of defiance

Check 6.

Jennifer said: “I think we all want to dress nicely whether it’s to impress others or simply feel good about the way we look.”

Question: In Jennifer’s opinion how many reasons are there for dressing nicely?

Two. “Whether (or not) implies only two possibilities. In Jennifer’s opinion, there are only two possible reasons why we dresses nicely:

1. To impress others.
2. To feel good about the way we look.

Of course, there could be other,…. There are two.

We learn quite a lot about “whether”. Let’s summarize

Whether or not express two possible alternatives.

Whether or not can express that the result will be the same no matter which of the two alternatives happens or is chosen.

Except in the set phrase Whether (you) like it or not…, we can omit (mean leave out) or not.

The two possible alternatives are understood by using only whether.

If can be used in place of whether in everyday, informal English. But..

Whether cannot be used in conditional statements. Use if instead.

If cannot be used before infinitives or after prepositions. Use whether instead.

End of part 1. Please go on to the next part of this lesson.

 

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