English Grammar Lesson – Noun Clauses Using Whether & If

Michael Grammar Leave a Comment

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I don’t know whether you’ve seen the last few English grammar lessons here, but I’ve been focusing on relative clauses. Last month I was wondering what my readers needed help with, so I sent a survey. I was trying to think if you guys wanted to study grammar or vocabulary, and most people replied that they wanted to study grammar, especially relative clauses. Let’s continue the discussion on noun clauses. Today, I want to show you noun clauses that use whether or if.

Noun clauses that use whether and if relate to yes/no questions. For example, if someone asks, “Is Jenny finished working yet?”, I can answer it using a noun clause with whether or if. The grammar is whether/if + subject + verb:

  • I don’t know whether she is finished.
  • I don’t know if she is finished.

Note that in everyday spoken English, if is more common than whether, which is generally used in formal spoken or written English. Here are a few more examples:

Does Joe need something from the store?

  • I don’t know whether he needs something from the store.
  • I don’t know if he needs something from the store.

Did Jack come to work yet?

  • No, he didn’t. I am not sure whether he overslept.
  • No, he didn’t. I am not sure if he overslept.

It is also possible to use whether and if with or not. The grammar patterns are (1) whether or not + subject + verb or (2) if or not + subject + verbor not:

Does Joe need something from the store?

  • I don’t know whether or not he needs something from the store.
  • I don’t know if he needs something from the store or not.

Did Jack come to work yet?

  • No, he didn’t. I am not sure whether or not he overslept.
  • No, he didn’t. I am not sure if he overslept or not.

If you know anyone who might be interested in this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!

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