Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Grammar Corner: Rather or Whether

Which to use: rather or whether?  At the crux of the debate are the phrases: rather or not (vs) whether or not. A friend and I discussed this recently and so I decided to look into this conundrum, since, as evident through the auto complete feature of the Google search engine, many people have wondered the same thing.  My results are as follows:

rath·er  adv.
1. More readily; preferably: I'd rather go to the movies.
2. With more reason, logic, wisdom, or other justification.
3. More exactly; more accurately: He's my friend, or rather he was my friend.
4. To a certain extent; somewhat: rather cold.

wheth·er  conj.
1. Used in indirect questions to introduce one alternative: We should find out whether the museum is open. 
2. Used to introduce alternative possibilities: Whether she wins or whether she loses, this is her last tournament.
3. Either: He passed the test, whether by skill or luck.

Rather describes the stated or understood verb while whether provides choices.  Always use whether when saying 'whether or not.'  For more information on the debate of rather or whether, you can always Ask the English Teacher, and for expanded definitions, usage notes, and synonyms please visit TheFreeDictionary.com.

Amanda LaFantasie (Skoora) © 2012


  1. interesting.... what a great idea to add grammar tips to the blog!

  2. I love using whether. I think it goes with my love of Shakespeare.