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"If" or "whether" Options
palapaguy
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 12:44:14 AM

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"I want to know if the below is correct."

Is this common form correct? It implies (to me) that I want to know only if the below is correct. Otherwise, I don't want to know.

I think it should be "I want to know whether (meaning if or not) the below is correct."

Am I correct?
Gabriel82
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 1:27:40 AM

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palapaguy wrote:
"I want to know if the below is correct."

Is this common form correct? It implies (to me) that I want to know only if the below is correct. Otherwise, I don't want to know.

I think it should be "I want to know whether (meaning if or not) the below is correct."

Am I correct?


You can use either sentence: the first one you list in italics or the last one. Both are correct. You could say a third option which would be this:

"I want to know whether or not the below is correct."
Pandion haliaetus
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 2:06:26 AM

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As to the common sense, we are at liberty to use both if and whether in any case where they are applicable but for the only difference in meaning: if suits every sentence with no restrictions, whereas whether is used when the speaker is not sure of the possible answer. Whether thus implies ambiguity. Compare: I'm not sure if she comes vs I'm not sure whether she comes. The second variant does not need to entail "...or not", which is quite clear from the whether itself. As to the first variant with the if, in some peculiar situation it may express "I know for sure that she won't come (and didn't mean to, at that)". The whether here is just impossible. Dixi.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 2:39:34 AM

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Hi palapaguy.

Gabriel is right - you could use any of the three in this sentence. The sense is the same.

However, you and Pandion haliaetus are also right - there is a difference in some contexts.
I don't quite get Pandion's example, but I understand the distinction which is being made.

"I want to know if the below is correct." - if one took this literally, it could mean:
If it is correct, say "Yes". If it is not correct, don't say anything.
However, very few people would consider this meaning - it's too uncertain. (If the person said nothing, it could mean that they didn't hear the instruction!)

It has been said by many people that understanding something literally is not the same as being literate.

*******
An example in which I see a difference would be:
Tell me if she's coming. - This would have the answer "OK, I will" and then later (when you see her at the gate) "She's coming up the path now."

Tell me whether she's coming. - This would have the answer "Yes, she says she'll be here in two hours" or "No, she can't get here today" or "I don't know, I'll call and ask her."


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 2:40:35 AM

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Hi Pandion haliaetus!
Welcome to the forum.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Pandion haliaetus
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 4:44:07 AM

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Hi, folks! Beg everybody's pardon, should have introduce my newbie's self first. Now, just to make the matter more distinct. "I want to know if the below is correct" means no more than it says, i.e., "I don't know" (the situation is clear). That same sentence containing whether implies what the initial variant doesn't - doubt, that is, "I know the below is correct, but I now doubt it". What I mean to say is that whether always reminds us that there is a suppressed alternative.
Romany
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 11:42:20 AM
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Am I the only person who sees "the below" as jarringly incorrect? The correct term would be "the following." If one wanted, for some reason, specifically to use the word "below" the only way would be to say something like "I want to know whether/if what's below is correct." or "the sentence/s below..." "what I've written below."

"The below" defies grammar!
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 4:32:53 PM

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Taking note of the above, I decided to look.
I remember having seen it before. It seems to follow the pattern of "the above", so it didn't seem especially strange to me. However, it doesn't appear in my dictionaries.

I searched for its usage.

It's not so common - in fact very rare, but it is used - even in a book called "Mastering English".

"Draw all the below carefully to scale" - Information Structure and Syntactic Change in the History of English

"For each of the below, select the cell specialization being described." - Crash Course: Cell Biology and Genetics E-Book - Matthew Stubbs, ‎Narin Suleyman - 2013

"The statist construct of nations, and the state-strategies to integration have been examined in a dialectical and evolving relationship with the responses from the below." - Himalayan Studies in India - Maitreyee Choudhury - 2008

Explain what is meant by lexeme and word form on the basis of the below: - Mastering English: A Student's Workbook and Guide - Alex Klinge - 2013



Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Romany
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 6:27:57 PM
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Then I stand corrected.....but unbowed.

It has appeared in a few specialist contexts? O.K. I concede. But notwithstanding that; I still think it sounds jarring and just the teensiet bit silly. (Drago: Try saying "Mark the below...", or "Read the below..." out loud. It ain't pretty.)
palapaguy
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 9:43:22 PM

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Gabriel82 wrote:
[quote=palapaguy]
You can use either sentence: the first one you list in italics or the last one. Both are correct. You could say a third option which would be this:

"I want to know whether or not the below is correct."


"Whether or not" is redundant, IMHO. "Whether" by itself means (to me) "if or not." So "whether or not" is treating "whether" as equal to "if." But it's not.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2018 2:53:05 AM

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Hi Romany.

I didn't say it clearly enough.

Those were the reasons it didn't 'jump out and bite me' - I have seen it before, and it seems to follow the pattern of "the above".

It definitely IS rare enough to be considered an anomaly and it doesn't appear as a noun in any dictionary.
As a noun, it's been used in one book every five or twenty years (except for 2013, when two authors used it).

As a prenomial adjective, it's a bit more common - "see the below quotations", "the image is a study in contrasts, the above section is light and airy but the below section is dark and solid".
Now, THAT sounds decidedly 'odd' to me.

I'm more used to it as a 'reduced' adjectival phrase or clause:
See the quotations below = see the quotations written below
Re-write the sentences below, using the passive voice = Re-write the sentences you will find below . . .
That sounds fairly natural.

**********
On "if" and "whether", I'm sorry, but I disagree with both palapaguy and Pandion.

"Whether" is used (very regularly) to mean exactly the same as "if" - both show a choice between alternatives (often between opposites) See the usage notes (number 3) below . . .

"Whether or not" and "whether . . . or not" are very common phrases. See the usage notes (number 2) below . . .

Quote:
whether

Whether is used in reported clauses and conditional clauses.
1. used in reported clauses

You can use a clause beginning with whether after a reporting verb such as know, ask, or wonder. You use whether when you are mentioning two or more alternatives. You put whether in front of the first alternative, and or in front of the second one.
I don't know whether he's in or out.
I was asked whether I wanted to stay at a hotel or at his home.

When the two alternatives are opposites, you don't need to mention both of them. For example, instead of saying 'I don't know whether he's in or out', you can simply say 'I don't know whether he's in'.
Lucy wondered whether Rita had been happy.
I asked Professor Gupta whether he agreed.

2. 'whether...or not'

You can also mention the second alternative using or not. You put or not either at the end of the sentence or immediately after whether.
I didn't know whether to believe him or not.
She didn't ask whether or not we wanted to come.

3. 'if'

If can be used instead of 'whether', especially when the second alternative is not mentioned.
I asked her if I could help her
I rang up to see if I could get seats.

4. reporting uncertainty

If someone is uncertain about doing a particular thing, or uncertain how to respond to a situation, you can report this using a clause consisting of whether and a to-infinitive.
I've been wondering whether to look for another job.
He didn't know whether to feel glad or sorry that she was leaving.
Collins COBUILD English Usage

In the case in which a full infinitive is used, there is a difference.
"If" does not make sense.

I don't know whether to have salad today (or not).
I don't know whether I should have salad today (or not).
I don't know if I should have salad today (or not).

I don't know if to have salad today (or not).

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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