“If” is used frequently in casual speech and writing where some others would prefer “whether”: “I wonder if you would be willing to dress up as a giant turnip for the parade?” Revise to “I wonder whether. . . .” “If" can’t really be called an error, but when you are discussing two alternative possibilities, “whether” sounds more polished. (The two possibilities in this example are: 1) you would be willing or 2) you wouldn’t. In sentences using “whether” “or not” is often understood.) Don’t substitute the very different word “whither,” which means “where.”

Return to list of errors

book cover

Read about the book.