The Grammar GuideWord ClassesWhat is the difference between "weather" and "whether"?

What is the difference between "weather" and "whether"?

What is the difference between "weather" and "whether"?

Weather and whether are homophones, which means they sound the same, but they have different spellings and different meanings. It’s easy to confuse these two words.

Weather is both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it refers to the state of the atmosphere outside. As a verb, it can mean to endure or to undergo change.

Whether is a conjunction used to introduce alternative situations.

Let's take a closer look at each in turn

Weather as a Noun

As a noun, weather refers to the state of the atmosphere outside. This includes temperature, wind, rain, barometric pressure, cloudiness, and more. Here are a few examples.

  • What is the weather like outside?
  • I really hate hot weather.
  • This weather is making my joints ache.

It can also be used informally to refer specifically to bad weather, especially storms.

  • We’ve had some real weather this summer.
  • Stay out of the weather.

Weather as a Verb

As a verb, weather can be used with or without an object. When used with an object, weather typically means to expose to the weather or to dry or season something. It can also mean to disintegrate or wear down.

  • He needs to weather the wood before carving it.
  • The old house had been weathered by the years.

When used without an object, weather can mean to endure or to undergo change. It can be used literally, as in an object that endures harsh weather or other physical processes. It can also be used figuratively, to refer to a person or place that endures difficult circumstances.

  • My leather coat is old, but it weathers well.
  • The foundation weathered the earthquake with minimal damage.
  • We will weather this storm together.
  • She weathered the loss of her parents, a breakup, and a career change with grace.

Whether

Whether is a subordinating conjunction. It presents alternative situations, and it often appears with the conjunction or.

  • It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game.
  • Whether or not I get the job, I’m moving to Los Angeles.
  • When we move depends on whether or not they accept our counteroffer.
  • I doubt whether she wants to see you.
Test yourself

Choose the missing word in each question.