Difference Between
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Either vs. Whether: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Either is used to indicate one or the other of two choices. Whether introduces a clause and indicates a doubt or choice between alternatives.
Either vs. Whether

Key Differences

Either is often used as a conjunction or determiner to indicate one out of two options, as in "You can choose either the red or the blue one." Whether is used to introduce a clause where there is uncertainty or a choice, like in "I'm unsure whether to go to the beach or the mountains."
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023
Either can function as a pronoun to refer to one of two choices, for instance, "Either of these options works for me." In contrast, Whether is used to express a doubt or choice, commonly followed by 'or not,' as in "I don't know whether or not I should call him."
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023
Either is also used in negative constructions to mean 'neither,' like "I don't like either of the dishes." Whereas Whether is used in a more general sense to discuss possibilities or hypotheticals, such as "Whether it rains or shines, the event will go on."
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023
In the context of providing alternatives, Either is more specific, often referring to one of two explicitly mentioned choices. Whether, on the other hand, can introduce more open-ended possibilities and is often used in the context of decision-making or speculation.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023
Usage of Either often implies a mutual exclusivity between two choices, indicating a clear distinction. Whether, however, is more inclusive and can imply multiple possibilities or considerations in the decision-making process.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Function

Conjunction or determiner for two options
Clause introducer for uncertainty or choices
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Usage

Specifically for one of two choices
For general possibilities or hypotheticals
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Construction

Often paired with 'or'
Commonly followed by 'or not'
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Context

Mutual exclusivity, clear distinction
Multiple possibilities, decision-making
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Example

"Either A or B"
"Whether A or B"
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023
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Either and Whether Definitions

Either

Implies one choice excludes the other.
You can have either tea or coffee, but not both.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Whether

Indicates possible scenarios.
Whether he arrives on time is uncertain.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Either

Indicates one out of two options.
You can either stay here or come with us.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Whether

Used for expressing choices.
I can't decide whether to travel by train or plane.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Either

Used to indicate a choice.
We could go to either the movie or the concert.
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Nov 20, 2023
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Whether

Introduces a clause with doubt.
I'm wondering whether to apply for the job.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Either

Refers to one of two.
Either option is fine by me.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Whether

For more open-ended options.
I'm not sure whether it will rain today.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Either

Means 'neither' in negatives.
I don't like either choice.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Whether

Used in indirect questions to introduce one alternative
We should find out whether the museum is open. See Usage Notes at doubt, if.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Either

Used before the first of two or more coordinates or clauses linked by or
Either we go now or we remain here forever.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Whether

Used to introduce alternative possibilities
Whether she wins or whether she loses, this is her last tournament.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Either

Any one of two; one or the other
Wear either coat.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Whether

Either
He passed the test, whether by skill or luck.
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Oct 19, 2023

Either

One and the other; each
Rings on either hand.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Whether

(obsolete) Which of two.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Either

Likewise; also. Used as an intensive following negative statements
If you don't order a dessert, I won't either.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Whether

(obsolete) Which of two.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Either

Any one (of two).
You can have it in either colour.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Whether

(obsolete) Introduces a direct question between alternatives (often with correlative or).
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Either

Each of two; both.
There is a locomotive at either end of the train, one pulling and the other pushing.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Whether

Indicates doubt between possibilities (usually with correlative or).
He chose the correct answer, but whether by luck or by skill I don't know.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Either

Any one (of more than two).
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Whether

Without a correlative, introduces a simple indirect question.
Do you know whether he's coming?
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Either

One or the other of two people or things.
He made me two offers, but I did not accept either.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Whether

Introduces a disjunctive adverbial clause qualifying the main clause (with correlative or).
He's coming, whether you like it or not.
Whether or not you're successful, you can be sure you did your best.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Either

(obsolete) Both, each of two or more.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Whether

Which (of two); which one (of two); - used interrogatively and relatively.
Now choose yourself whether that you liketh.
One day in doubt I cast for to compareWhether in beauties' glory did exceed.
Whether of them twain did the will of his father?
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Either

As well.
I don't like him, and I don't like her either.
I know a cheap Spanish restaurant. It's not far from here, either.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Whether

In case; if; - used to introduce the first or two or more alternative clauses, the other or others being connected by or, or by or whether. When the second of two alternatives is the simple negative of the first it is sometimes only indicated by the particle not or no after the correlative, and sometimes it is omitted entirely as being distinctly implied in the whether of the first.
And now who knowsBut you, Lorenzo, whether I am yours?
You have said; but whether wisely or no, let the forest judge.
For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.
But whether thus these things, or whether not;Whether the sun, predominant in heaven,Rise on the earth, or earth rise on the sun, . . . Solicit not thy thoughts with matters hid.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Either

Introduces the first of two (or occasionally more) options or possibilities, the second (or last) of which is introduced by “or”.
Either you eat your dinner or you go to your room.
You can have either potatoes or rice with that, but not both.
You'll be either early, late, or on time.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Whether

Indicates consideration of multiple factors.
She's considering whether the benefits outweigh the risks.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Either

One of two; the one or the other; - properly used of two things, but sometimes of a larger number, for any one.
Lepidus flatters both,Of both is flattered; but he neither loves,Nor either cares for him.
Scarce a palm of ground could be gotten by either of the three.
There have been three talkers in Great British, either of whom would illustrate what I say about dogmatists.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Either

Each of two; the one and the other; both; - formerly, also, each of any number.
His flowing hairIn curls on either cheek played.
On either side . . . was there the tree of life.
The extreme right and left of either army never engaged.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Either

Either precedes two, or more, coördinate words or phrases, and is introductory to an alternative. It is correlative to or.
Either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth.
Few writers hesitate to use either in what is called a triple alternative; such as, We must either stay where we are, proceed, or recede.
Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs?
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Either

After a negative statement used as an intensive meaning something like `likewise' or `also';
He isn't stupid, but he isn't exactly a genius either
I don't know either
If you don't order dessert I won't either
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Is whether used to introduce two options only?

Whether can introduce two or more options or a single condition.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Is whether always followed by 'or not'?

Not always, but it's common to use 'or not' with whether for clarity.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Can either stand alone in a sentence?

Yes, either can stand alone, as in "I don't want either."
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Can either imply preference?

Yes, either can imply a preference or choice between two options.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Is there a difference in pronunciation between either and whether?

Yes, they have distinct pronunciations: /ˈaɪðər/ for either and /ˈwɛðər/ for whether.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Does whether introduce a conditional statement?

Yes, whether often introduces conditions or hypotheticals.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Can either be used in a question?

Yes, either can be used in questions involving choices.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Is either used in negative sentences?

Yes, either is used in negative sentences to mean 'neither.'
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Can whether be used to express uncertainty?

Yes, whether is commonly used to express doubt or uncertainty.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Can either link more than two items?

Typically, either is used for choices between two items.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Can whether start a question?

Yes, whether can start a question, especially in indirect questions.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Is either only used in comparisons?

Either is primarily used in comparisons or choices between two.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Is either appropriate in legal or technical writing?

Yes, either is appropriate for clarifying choices in such contexts.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Does whether indicate a more open choice?

Yes, whether often indicates a broader range of possibilities.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Is whether suitable for speculative scenarios?

Yes, whether is ideal for discussing speculative or uncertain scenarios.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Can either create a mutually exclusive context?

Yes, either often creates a context where one choice excludes the other.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Is whether formal or informal?

Whether is neutral and can be used in both formal and informal contexts.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Can either be replaced with 'or'?

In some contexts, either can be implied by 'or,' but it's more explicit.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Does whether imply a decision will be made?

Whether often implies a decision or conclusion is pending.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Can either be used as an adverb?

Yes, either can function as an adverb, as in "I don't like it either."
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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