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Whether or Not

Posted by Lotg on May 09, 2003

While I'm on the subject of superfluous words, why is it necessary (or is it in fact necessary), to add 'or not' when using the word 'whether'.

Obviously when the condition involves more than 2 choices it's necessary to specify the condition, eg. whether to drive or catch a train (if there are other modes of transport available), but if it's simply a yes or no condition, then sure simply 'whether to catch a train' is sufficient, instead of 'whether or not to catch a train'. This is probably a lousy example, but I'm sure you've got the general idea.