Writing Tips 2


More from my days at Bank of America.

Should you use “if,” or “whether”?

  • “If” says that the event just mentioned might happen
  • “Whether” says which event that follows will happen; it always says or implies “or not”

Example using “if”

“Send me a message to tell me if the bank was robbed”

  • “The message appears if the bank was robbed; Otherwise, there’s no message
  •  The existence of the event determines what happens.

Example using “whether”

“Tell me whether (or not) the bank was robbed”

  • “The message tells you about the existence or non-existence of the robbery
  • You get either “the bank was robbed” or you get “the bank was not robbed.”


  • “If” applies to what came before, and tells of existence
  • “Whether” applies to what follows, and shows a choice

Hmm. What would be a good illustration showing this distinction?

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