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Whether or Not

Posted by Fred on May 09, 2003

In Reply to: 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.

I looked in Fowler's _Modern English Usage_.
Surprisingly he condones both `whether or not' and
'whether or no'. He does tell us to avoid
the following doubling of 'not's:
`But clearly, whether or not peers will or
will not have to be made depends upon the
number of the Die-Hards'.

Hmm! Why not get rid of both `not's?