Which vs Whether - What's the difference?

which | whether |


As pronouns the difference between which and whether

is that which is (lb) who; whom; what (of those mentioned or implied) while whether is (obsolete) which of two.

As a determiner which

is what, of those mentioned or implied (used interrogatively ).

As a noun which

is an occurrence of the word which .

As a conjunction whether is

(lb).

which

English

(wikipedia which)

Alternative forms

* whiche (obsolete) * wich (Jamaican English)

Determiner

(en determiner)
  • What, of those mentioned or implied (used interrogatively ).
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2013-08-17, volume=408, issue=8849, magazine=(The Economist), author=Schumpeter
  • , title= In praise of laziness , passage=Which of these banes of modern business life is worse remains open to debate. But what is clear is that office workers are on a treadmill of pointless activity. Managers allow meetings to drag on for hours. Workers generate e-mails because it requires little effort and no thought. An entire management industry exists to spin the treadmill ever faster.}}
  • (interrogative) What one or ones (of those mentioned or implied).
  • (relative) The one or ones that.
  • (relative) The one or ones mentioned.
  • * {{quote-magazine, year=2013, month=May-June, author= Katrina G. Claw
  • , title= Rapid Evolution in Eggs and Sperm , volume=101, issue=3, magazine=(American Scientist) , passage=Many genes with reproductive roles also have antibacterial and immune functions, which indicate that the threat of microbial attack on the sperm or egg may be a major influence on rapid evolution during reproduction.}}
  • Used of people (now generally (who), (whom) or (that)).
  • * 1526 , (William Tyndale), trans. Bible , Acts IX:
  • The men which acompanyed him on his waye stode amased, for they herde a voyce, butt sawe no man.

    Pronoun

    (English Pronouns)
  • (lb) Who; whom; what (of those mentioned or implied).
  • :
  • *
  • , title=(The Celebrity), chapter=2 , passage=Sunning himself on the board steps, I saw for the first time Mr. Farquhar Fenelon Cooke.
  • *
  • *:There was a neat hat-and-umbrella stand, and the stranger's weary feet fell soft on a good, serviceable dark-red drugget, which matched in colour the flock-paper on the walls.
  • *{{quote-magazine, date=2013-07-20, volume=408, issue=8845, magazine=(The Economist)
  • , title= Welcome to the plastisphere , passage=Plastics are energy-rich substances, which is why many of them burn so readily. Any organism that could unlock and use that energy would do well in the Anthropocene. Terrestrial bacteria and fungi which can manage this trick are already familiar to experts in the field.}}

    Usage notes

    * (US usage'') Some authorities insist, prescriptively, that relative ''which'' should be used only in non-restrictive contexts. For restrictive contexts (e.g., ''The song that made the charts in 2004 is better than the later ones''), they prefer ''that''. Actual usage does not support this "rule". Fowler, who proposed the rule, himself acknowledged that it was "not the practice of most or of the best writers". Even E.B. White, a notorious "which-hunter", wrote this: "the premature expiration of a pig is, I soon discovered, a departure which the community marks solemnly on its calendar." In modern UK usage, ''The song which made the charts in 2004 is better than the later ones is generally accepted without question. * When "which" (or the other relative pronouns "who" and "that") is used as the subject of a relative clause, the verb agrees with the antecedent of the pronoun. Thus "The thing which is...", "The things which are...", etc.

    Quotations

    * 1611 — 1:1 *: Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us...

    Derived terms

    * every which way * every which where * whichever * whichness * whichsoever

    Noun

    (es)
  • An occurrence of the word which .
  • * 1959 , William Van O'Connor, Modern prose, form and style (page 251)
  • The ofs and the whiches have thrown our prose into a hundred-years' sleep.
  • * 1989 , Donald Ervin Knuth, Tracy Larrabee, Paul M. Roberts, Mathematical writing (page 90)
  • Is it not true, TLL asked of Mary-Claire, that people invariably get their whiches and thats right when they speak?

    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.
  • :
  • :
  • 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.