Weather vs. Whether: What’s The Difference?

dark blue text "weather vs whether" on light blue background

We’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather, whether we like it or not! This nursery rhyme demonstrates some of the different ways that weather and whether can be used. But what do these words really mean?

In this article, we’ll define the difference between weather and whether and provide tips to help you always remember which one is which.

Quick summary

The word that refers to the conditions of the Earth’s atmosphere—like rain and wind and heat—is weather. You can remember that it’s spelled weather because it describes Earth’s atmospheric conditions. This spelling is also used for the verb that means “to endure a storm or hardship,” as in We’ll do our best to weather these setbacks. The word whether is a conjunction used to introduce two or more alternatives, as in I don’t know whether to turn right or left or Whether or not you’re ready, you have to make a choice.

When to use weather or whether

Weather and whether are homophones—their pronunciation is identical. However, these two words have different meanings.

The word weather is most often used as a noun to refer to the state of the Earth’s atmosphere in terms of conditions such as precipitation, temperature, humidity, air pressure, etc.

Weather is also used as a verb meaning “to expose something to the weather.”

For example: I’m going to weather this wood to give it an antique look.

Weather is also used as a verb in reference to enduring a literal storm, or a metaphorical one, such as a hardship.

For example:

  • We decided to stay and weather the windstorm.
  • They weathered the criticism with dignity.

The word whether is a conjunction used to present two or more alternatives.

For example:

  • I can’t decide whether this is a good idea or a bad idea.
  • I don’t think things will change much whether we stay or whether we go.

In the second case, the word whether is repeated as a way of presenting all the alternatives.

Sometimes, only one option or alternative is directly stated when using whether. The other option may be implied or stated by simply using the word not.

For example:

  • He wasn’t sure whether he could have said it any better.
  • She was going to come whether we wanted her to or not.

The word if can mean the same thing as whether and so the word whether can often be replaced with the word if without changing the meaning of a sentence.

For example:

  • Tell me whether you like vanilla or chocolate more.
    → Tell me if you like vanilla or chocolate more.
  • I’m still deciding whether I should buy that car.
    → I’m still deciding if I should buy that car.

When trying to determine which word to use, remember that weather is used as a noun and verb while whether is only used as a conjunction. A tip that may help you differentiate the two words is that we use whether to introduce more than one option and it’s the word with more than one h. Alternatively, you might remember that we use the word weather to describe Earth’s atmospheric conditions.

How many of these wild weather-related words do you know?

Examples of weather and whether used in a sentence

Take a look at some example sentences to test whether or not you’ve learned the difference between weather and whether.

  • The weather today is supposed to be cloudy with a chance of rain.
  • The reinforced houses were designed to weather extremely powerful winds.
  • I wasn’t sure whether the box was stored in the attic or the basement.
  • My dog barges into my room whether I want her to or not.
  • Whether you come in the summer or the winter, the weather on the tropical island is always beautiful!

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