Whence vs Whether - What's the difference?

whence | whether |


As conjunctions the difference between whence and whether

is that whence is (literary|poetic) (used for introducing the result of a fact that has just been stated) while whether is (lb).

As an adverb whence

is from where; from which place or source.

As a pronoun whether is

(obsolete) which of two.

whence

English

Adverb

(-)
  • From where; from which place or source.
  • Whence came I?
    "Pork" comes from French, whence we get most of our modern cooking terms.
  • * 1818 , (Mary Shelley), , Chapter 4:
  • Whence , I often asked myself, did the principle of life proceed?
  • * 1898 , , Chapter 3:
  • At first I could not tell what this new sound was, nor whence it came, and now it seemed a little noise close by, and now a great noise in the distance. And then it grew nearer and more defined, and in a moment I knew it was the sound of voices talking.
  • *
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  • Usage notes

    * This word is uncommon in modern usage; from where'' is now usually substituted (as in the example sentence: ''Where did I come from?'' or ''From where did I come? ). It is now chiefly encountered in older works, or in poetic or literary writing. * From whence has a strong literary precedent, appearing in Shakespeare and the King James Bible as well as in the writings of numerous Victorian-era writers. In recent times, however, it has been criticized as redundant by usage commentators.

    Conjunction

    (English Conjunctions)
  • (literary, poetic) (used for introducing the result of a fact that has just been stated)
  • The work is slow and dangerous, whence the high costs.
    I scored more than you in the exam, whence we can conclude that I am better at the subject than you are.

    Antonyms

    * (l)

    whether

    English

    Pronoun

    (English Pronouns)
  • (obsolete) Which of two.
  • * 1526 , William Tyndale, trans. Bible , Matthew XXVII:
  • The debite answered and sayde unto them: whether of the twayne will ye that I lett loosse unto you?
  • * Bible, Matthew xxi. 31
  • Whether of them twain did the will of his father?

    Conjunction

    (English Conjunctions)
  • (lb)
  • *1526 , (William Tyndale), trans. Bible , Mark II:
  • *:whether ys it easyer to saye to the sicke of the palsey, thy synnes ar forgeven the: or to saye, aryse, take uppe thy beed and walke?
  • *1616 , (William Shakespeare), (King John) , I.i:
  • *:Whether hadst thou rather be a Faulconbridge, [...] Or the reputed sonne of Cordelion?
  • .
  • :
  • *
  • *:As a political system democracy seems to me extraordinarily foolish,I do not suppose that it matters much in reality whether laws are made by dukes or cornerboys, but I like, as far as possible, to associate with gentlemen in private life.
  • *{{quote-news, year=2012, date=June 19, author=Phil McNulty, work=BBC Sport
  • , title= England 1-0 Ukraine , passage=The incident immediately revived the debate about goal-line technology, with a final decision on whether it is introduced expected to be taken in Zurich on 5 July.}}
  • *{{quote-magazine, date=2013-07-20, volume=408, issue=8845, magazine=(The Economist)
  • , title= Old soldiers? , passage=Whether modern, industrial man is less or more warlike than his hunter-gatherer ancestors is impossible to determine. The machine gun is so much more lethal than the bow and arrow that comparisons are meaningless. One thing that is true, though, is that murder rates have fallen over the centuries, as policing has spread and the routine carrying of weapons has diminished.}}
  • ; if, whether or not.
  • :
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  • Usage notes

    * There is some overlap in usage between senses 2 and 3, in that a yes-or-no interrogative content clause can list the two possibilities explicitly in a number of ways:
    Do you know whether he's coming or staying?''
    ''Do you know whether he's coming or not?''
    ''Do you know whether or not he's coming?''
    Further, in the first two of these examples, the "or staying" and "or not" may be added as an afterthought (sometimes indicated in writing with a comma before), such that the ''whether may be uttered in sense 3 and then amended to sense 2. * Sense 4 does not have a counterpart that introduces only a single possibility; *"He's coming, whether you like it" is ungrammatical. * In traditional grammar, the clauses headed by whether'' in senses 2 and 3 are classified as noun clauses, and those headed by ''whether in sense 4 are classified as adverb clauses.