Grammar 10 min read

Wether, Weather, and Whether: How to Use Them Correctly

Main Weather and Whether Takeaways:

  • Wether, weather, and whether are homophones. This means that they sound alike but have different meanings.
  • Weather refers to the atmospheric state, including temperature, cloud cover, and moisture.
  • Whether is a conjunction that helps express possibilities and choices.
  • Wether is the term for a castrated sheep or goat.

Maybe you planned on bringing the wether in from the pasture whether or not the weather turned bad. Wether, weather, and whether are three of the most confusing homophones in the English language. In this article, we’ll define each word. Then, we’ll show you plenty of easy examples of how to correctly use each one with confidence.

The weather today will be warm and sunny with a few passing clouds in the afternoon.
I’m not sure whether I should stay home or go out with friends.
They have tons of animals on their farm, including several bulls, a few sows, and one wether.
A young man looking confused on what spelling to use. Wether, weather, or whether?
Wether, weather, and whether are homophones. These words sound almost identical but have very different meanings

Are Weather and Whether Homophones?

Homophones are words that sound almost identical when pronounced but have different spellings and meanings. Wether, weather and whether are homophones. These three words sound the same. But, they have different spellings and completely different meanings. For example, a wether is a castrated male goat or sheep. Conversely, weather refers to atmospheric conditions. Finally, whether can be a synonym for if an refers to possibilities or choices.

On their wedding day, thewetherwas snowy and cold.
On their wedding day, theweatherwas snowy and cold.
Spending hours in the sunwhetheredLiam’s skin until he looked years older than his actual age.
Spending hours in the sunweatheredEdward’s skin until he looked years older than his actual age.
They raised mostweatherson his ranch for their wool.
They raised mostwetherson his ranch for their wool.
Homophones are words that sound alike but have different meanings. Broken down to its roots, homo- means same and -phone means sound.

What is the Difference Between Weather and Whether?

Weather and whether are often confused but they are not interchangeable. On one hand, the word is a noun that weather refers to atmospheric conditions like temperature, pressure, wind, and rain. It can also be a verb that means to endure of survive challenging experience. (to weather a storm). What’s more, it can also we an adjective that means to erode or wear away (the old coat looked weathered). On the other hand, whether is a conjunction. It refers to choices or possibilities. Depending on the sentence, you can usually substitute whether with if or no matter what.

The conjunctionwhether represents possibilities and is similar to if. It can be used in three ways:

  • When there is a choice between two possibilities
  • When it doesn’t matter which possibility is true (whether…or not)
  • And when there’s doubt about which possibility is true
Wetheror notyou want to go to the wedding, the bride is expecting you to be there.
Whetheror notyou want to go to the wedding, the bride is expecting you to be there.
As a verb, weather means to wear away due to exposure to elements such as air and water. It can also mean to make it safely through a trial or tribulation (in other words, a literal or metaphorical storm).

How Do You Remember the Difference Between Weather and Whether?

Here’s how to remember the difference between weather and whether: count the ‘Hs’. For example, whether refers to weighing choices or possibilities, so associate the two ‘Hs’ in whether with two possibilities. Conversely, there is usually only one atmospheric condition at a time, so associate the one ‘H’ in weather with one condition. Moreover a wether is a goat or sheep that has been castrated, or had two reproductive organs removed. Associate those two missing organs with the missing letters ‘A’ (from weather) and one ‘H’ (from whether) to get wether. Alternatively, remember that the ‘A’ in weather stands for air. Or, that storms affect the sea, which has an ‘AE’ letter combination like weather.

Two panels showing the difference between "whether" and "weather." On the left-side panel, there's a young man standing beside his open door, thinking whether to go out or not. On the right-side panel, there's another young man enjoying the fine weather outdoor.
Whether has two ‘Hs’ and usually used when you’re torn between two choices. Weather has one ‘H’ and refers to atmospheric condition.

Trick #1: Count the number of ‘Hs’

  • One ‘H’ = One atmospheric condition = weather
  • Two ‘Hs’ = Two possibilities = whether
  • One ‘H’ and no ‘E’ = Two missing letters = wether

Trick #2: Look for the ‘A’

Associate the letter ‘A’ in weather with the word air.

This is because the weather usually changes with the air. For example, hot air usually brings hotter temperatures. Or, when hot and cold air clash, it might create a storm.

Trick #3: Look for the ‘E/A’ Combo

Since the weather can affect sea conditions, associate the ‘E/A’ letter combination in the word sea with the same combination in the word weather.

Trick #4: Replace with If or Whatever Happens

Confirm if you should use weather or whether by replacing the word. Substitute with the word if.

If the sentence still makes sense and is grammatically correct, then whether is the correct choice.

I don’t know whether she’s coming or not.
I don’t know if she’s coming or not.

Alternatively, whether can appear as part of construction whether…or not. Phrases with this construction might appear at the beginning of a sentence as an introductory clause, or at the end of a sentence as a dependent clause.

In these cases, replace the entire whether phrase with a phrase like no matter what, whatever the case, or no matter what happens.

If the sentence still makes sense and is correct, then whether is the correct word to use.

Whether you join us for cake or not, we’re happy you came for the dinner.
Whatever the case, we’re happy you came for dinner.
Whatever happens, we’re happy you came for dinner.
You’re joining us for cake whether you like it or not!
You’re joining us for cake, no matter what!
As a noun, weather refers to atmospheric conditions, including temperature, cloudiness, precipitation, and wind.

How Do You Use Whether in a Sentence?

Here are examples of how to use whether in a sentence:

You need to decide whether or not you’ll attend the conference.
We came all this way just to see the waterfall, so you’re hiking up there with us whether you like it not.
Whether you want one or not, we insist on treating you to a homemade ice cream sandwich!
I have no idea whether we should pick her up at her house or she’ll meet us at the beach.
Whether or not you win, you know we’re incredibly proud of you.
Three panels. First panel has a goat and sheet plus the word "wether," which means castrated male sheep or goat. Second panel has a young man wearing a shirt labeled with "IF." There's also a text that explains "whether" is used to express doubt or introduce alternatives. The third panel shows rain cloud, thunder, snow, and sun to represent different weather or atmospheric conditions.
Wether, whether, and weather are homophones. Meaning, they all sound the same when spoken but they have different spellings and definitions.

How Do You Use Wether in a Sentence?

Here are examples of how to use wether in a sentence:

When a male goat is castrated, he goes from being a ram to a wether.
We don’t expect to see as many lambs this season because two of their rams were weathered last year.
He grew up on a small farm with rams and whethers.
The children helped tie a bell around the wether’s neck so that we always know where to find him.
It’s best to shear the ewes before they give birth, but we’re not as strict about when we shear the rams and wethers.
A wether is the name for a castrated male sheep or goat.
Every morning, she leads the whether out into the pasture with the other sheep.

Unless you work on a ranch or in animal husbandry, you may never have encountered the word wether. A wether is a sheep or goat that was castrated prior to sexual maturity

What is Another Word for Whether?

Several synonyms for whether exist in the English Language. Some of these include: if, in any case, either, even if, supposing, either way, and irrespective. Here are some other words for whether: 

  • Regardless
  • Deservedly
  • Incidentally
  • Nilly-willy
  • Whether or not
  • On the assumption that
  • If it follows that
  • Notwithstanding if
  • Regardless of whether

Is it Correct to say: Whether it be?

Strange as it may sound, it’s grammatically correct to say “whether it be.” The phrase describes a conditional or imaginary situation. It indicates a range of possible things or events. You can also use “whether it be” to express doubt about a specific situation. 

Jane enjoys outdoor activities, whether it be hiking or cycling.
Whether it be chocolate or cookies, little Joey loves a sweet treat.

The first sentence suggests that Jane could be doing either activity. In the second sentence, it is saying that Joey likes anything sweet from both the stated and unstated possibilities. 

Common Expressions With Whether, Weather and Whether

Knowing which spelling to choose—wethervs. weather vs. whether—can be tricky. Knowing how to spell them in expressions and words that include them can be even trickier. Let’s explore a few.

How Do You Spell Bellwether?

The word bellwether originated when shepherds—or goatherds, as the case may be—attached a bell to the lead wether. The ringing of the bell would call the other animals to follow. Today, a bellwether is a leader or a trendsetter. It may refer to a person, or to a place or object that serves as an indicator or predictor.

The young fashionista was thebellwetherof clothing trends throughout the workplace.

What Does it Mean to Feel Under the Weather?

This colloquialism under the weather refers to someone who is sick or in poor spirits. It originated as a nautical term that referred to an unwell sailor who was sent below deck. There, he would be sheltered from the weatherwhile he recuperates. Thus, it takes on the spelling of weather.

Carol brought chicken soup to her boyfriend when he wasunder the weather.

What is a Fair-Weather Friend?

A fair-weather friend is another common weather-related idiom. This one has been around since the mid-1800s or earlier. It refers to a friend who is there in good times, but can’t be counted on in bad times. In other words, a fair-weather friend is around when skies are blue, but not when the weather turns stormy. Because of this, it’s spelled as weather.

When Rose was injured in the car accident, she found out that Mary was nothing but afair-weatherfriend.

Is it Weather or Whether? Or, Wether? Take this Quick Quiz!

Weather vs. Whether Question #1

You can interchange “weather” and “whether” in a sentence.
Correct! Wrong!

The answer is FALSE. “Weather” refers to an atmospheric condition. “Whether” expresses doubt or introduces alternatives.

Wether vs. Weather vs. Whether Question #2

Which statement is NOT correct?
Correct! Wrong!

The answer is A. “Wether” is the term for a castrated sheep or goat.

Wether vs. Weather vs. Whether Question #3

Which statement is grammatically correct?
Correct! Wrong!

The answer is B. Weather refers to the atmospheric state, including temperature, cloud cover, and moisture.

Weather Question #4

What does this sentence mean? Charlize felt under the weather yesterday.
Correct! Wrong!

The answer is A. “Under the weather” is a common colloquialism that refers to someone who is ill or in poor spirits.

Wether vs. Weather vs. Whether
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Read More: What Is Correct? Alot Or A Lot? And, What About Allot?

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Pam Weber

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, Writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

Comment (1)
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  1. siggiofdowneast maine September 06 at 11:02 pm GMT

    Thank you … was constructing cherita ( small story in six lines ) trying to see how many forms of weather homonyms there are. 🙂
    This was a big help.

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