AEE 1547: Advanced English Grammar - Don't Be Afraid of the WhetherAll Ears English
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- 30 Mar 2021
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This is an all ears English podcast episode, 1547 Advanced English Grammar. Don't be afraid of the weather.
Welcome to the All Ears English podcast downloaded more than 200 million times. Are you feeling stuck with your English? We'll show you how to become fearless and fluent by focusing on connection, not perfection, with your American hosts. Lindsay McMahon, the English adventurer, and Michelle Kaplan, the New York Radio Girl coming to you from Colorado and New York City, USA.
Today, we get a listener question about how to know which one to use if or whether we break down the details and show you how to stretch to a higher English level by knowing the differences.
Hey, Lindsay, how are you doing? Well, Michelle, how are you? I'm good. I'm good. I'm good. I'm excited to get my hands dirty with some grammar today. Let's get our let's get into it.
Michelle, it's always good to get into grandma. I know our listeners have a lot of grammar questions, and we are here to help you guys out. So let's get into it for sure. Awesome. Yeah.
So we're going to be talking about something that a listener asked about the difference between if and whether that is super interesting.
This word choice, part of grammar is just word choice, right?
Well, it's huge. Yes, definitely. I know this is definitely a common one that our listeners worry about a lot, I'm sure.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And it's it's really it's an important one. So we're going to get into that in a second.
Lindsay, would you want to read the question for us? OK, here we go. So this is from D.. From was he the Dominic. Dominic. OK, I see a bunch of names.
Yeah I know. I see that too. I'm not sure, but yeah. OK. Looks like Dominic from Germany. OK, Dominic, he says, I was wondering if or whether there is a difference between if or whether can they be mixed or are there any rules on how to use them.
I guess if has to be used in conditional sentences. But I'm confused how to use those words in another context. For example, my boss has asked me today if I can work on Friday or my boss has asked me today whether I can work on Friday are both correct. Is there an episode on this online? I couldn't find any of them using the search bar. Thanks in advance. Best regards, Dominic from Germany. Such a good question, Michel.
Oh, yeah, this is a good one too.
And yeah, I mean, I couldn't find it either, so I don't think I think this is the new one. So good. Thank you, Dominic, for this question. I love it. So we are going to dive into this in just a second. But before we do that, guys, wherever you listen to all ears, English, right?
If you are not subscribed, you guys are missing out on our bonuses and lots of different things that could happen if you do not hit the subscribe button. It's so easy. It's literally hitting the bottom, right?
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For sure, for sure. OK, awesome. So, all right. So yeah, this episode is inspired by Grammar Girl who you know, Lindsay, you or she was on our show and you were on hers.
Yeah, that was great when we collaborated. So guys go back and look for episode thirteen sixty eight on English where she came on the show and talked about the origins of colors where colors come from. If you want to go into the history of language, the English language, it's really good, really good stuff. And then you consulted over on her blog, Michelle, for some information from today's episode.
Right, exactly. So, guys, we will leave you that link so that you can get more examples. So, yeah, think a shout out to grammar girl for sure.
So let's get into it. So, yeah, basically there is a general rule, but there are also times when either one is God. So, yeah, this is kind of it's kind of one of those situations where actually I mean, native speakers may not really be able to articulate the answer to this question.
If it is kind of hard, if you think about it right.
You really have to think about what the differences is, right, Lindsey? Oh, my gosh.
Yeah, definitely. I don't think that natives would be able to give you a quick grammar lesson on this necessarily.
I yeah, I definitely had to research this a bit. And even so, like, there are times when, you know, there might be exceptions or, you know, we always have things like that.
So but in general, I mean, Lindsey, what do you think?
You say more if or whether what do I say more as a native speaker? Geez, if if I think I say it.
Yeah, yeah, I agree. I mean, that's for me. I mean, just I don't think you can get away from the word if like, no matter what you do.
But I think you can escape the word whether I think you can too. Yeah. I'm not sure. Yeah. I just, I so much more prominent just it's so maybe because it's shorter. It's a simple proposition.
I don't know I guys we're not talking about the weather like, you know, the rain or snow. So that's w e h.e.r. We're talking about w h h e r just so you know.
Yeah. Of course our listeners know that we talk about the weather all the time, so. Right. I know. I always say I'm not going to talk about the weather and then I do. But what can I look on? I tell you so. Yeah.
I mean if is of course definitely is with conditionals. Right. And weather in general is if there is more than one possibility.
Yeah. OK, so that's an important point right there. That's the key today, right, Michelle.
So when there's more than one possibility like this or that A or B, it's weather, we'll get into it.
We'll give you some examples and then kind of, you know, make sure that we understand the whole thing. But, yes, that's a that's a good thing to start with. So so if I say I don't know whether I want Cookie. Or ice cream, so this means I won one or the other, right? I want cookies or I want ice cream, but I don't know which. Right, Lindsay Right.
And it's not that is not that you're going to have nothing. Right. You're definitely going to have one of the two.
Yes. Yes. That that's the key right there. Right.
So, Lindsay, what would you choose, cookies or ice cream? I know what you would choose. Ice cream. I know you. I mean, I'm not going to turn down cookies, but that's not the point, right? Ice cream over cookies any day of the week. And you probably a big cookie, right, Michelle?
Yeah, I guess I would choose the cookie to be popped in the microwave for a few seconds, OK?
Yeah. You know what is so crazy? We bought Girl Scout cookies and we bought you know, my classic favorite, of course, is Thin Mints. Yeah, of course. But they changed the recipe. Did you know that they changed. Thin Mints. Yeah. They're not the same anymore. I mean, they're still good, but there's just something different, kind of lighter and less savory about it.
I think it's weird. I was disappointed. Yeah, it is.
Oh no, not now. Like regular like the old Thin Mints are going to go on. The black market are probably.
Probably. Oh my gosh. Oh that's upsetting. Well, all right. So well then you'll definitely take the ice cream. So but what if what if I said to you, Lindsay, I don't know if I want cookies or ice cream. Yeah, that's a little more ambiguous.
Right. So it means I may not even want anything. I might skip dessert completely or it could mean that you're weighing your options just like the first example between cookies and ice cream. But it's it's it's ambiguous. Like we said, it's less clear.
Right. Right, exactly.
Like, I kind of think with that example, the second one, I think sometimes native speakers would still use if with the two options, like I, I still think I would say I don't know if I want cookies or ice cream, even if I know I want more than one or the other.
Yeah, I think.
But but like but like you said, technically, technically, it's a little bit unclear, it's a little bit vague because it could mean a couple different things. So so the moral of the story here is if you don't want any questions, you know.
Yeah. Then yeah, you would, you would say whether OK, so that will make it a little bit more clear.
So our listeners should really get comfortable with using whether I think this is a way to advance up to that high level of fluency too for them. Right, right.
Right, exactly. I mean, the word weather is great.
I mean, yeah, I think I think it does kind of like have a smarter have a smart feel to it.
So I think, you know, that's kind of a good takeaway for today is, you know, don't shy away from this word. You know, that's what we're helping you do today. I totally agree with that.
Yeah, for sure.
OK, well, let's go deeper into it that Michelle, don't forget to follow all English podcast. Wherever you listen to podcasts, if you don't follow us, you won't get updates when we publish a new episode. And that means you will miss some good stuff. So hit follow now wherever you listen to podcast. Thanks for listening to the show, guys.
Let's do it so yes, over the conditional, so let me know if you want to meet later, right.
So if you know the condition we're using, if you could say so, something like this, let me know whether or not you want to meet later.
Yeah. OK, so what's the difference between these two? Are they the same? Basically.
Kind of. So yeah, the first one.
Let me know if you want to meet later. You know, let me know. We know what that means.
But whether or not it means tell me, no matter what you decide right now, you want a definite yes or no.
Right. Or if it like let me know if you want to meet later is more like tell me if there's a yes. That's what it sounds like. Yeah.
And if there's a no, it's OK if you don't reach out. Right. Right. That's what it sounds like. Yeah. So again, it's really like is it a yes or a no, a clear yes or no. Then we go with the weather and if is just a little bit different. Yeah. Right, right.
Right. Exactly. So and then you could use either like I didn't know if you would call later, I didn't know whether you would call later.
So with these, you know, they're both OK. They, they could or could not happen. And again, guys, this is a very inspired from grammar girl.
So really thank you to grammar girl.
So that's that's a useful example. Yeah.
Yeah. So good. So good. So I guess it sounds like if we hear whether in a question we have to be ready to give a response. Is that probably safe, Michelle.
Yeah, that's an yeah. In that situation. I think that that's fair to say. Right. If I, I mean because it's whether or not. Right. Yeah. I mean the two options. Right. So that's kind of an added thing here. It's not just weather, but whether or not is useful. And that's I think pretty, pretty common. So Lonzie say if I say to you, like, let me know if you want to or if you want to record on Tuesday or whatever.
Yeah. Like it's more open, but let me know whether or not it's definitely like I need an answer.
Yeah. Like if I don't want to record on Tuesday I may not reach out to. All right. Kind of like just let me know if the answer's yes. But whether or not is like we need to know or we recording on Tuesday or are we not.
Right. Right, right. Right, right. Exactly. And then you know what? We have the listeners example just to go back, because Dominic asks the specific question. So my boss has asked me today if I can work on Friday. My boss has asked me today whether I can work on Friday.
So this is about really only one possibility, right?
If it's possible.
So, again, I would say whether or not the but between the two, I would probably say if but I don't know. I guess even whether it's technically OK. What do you think, Lindsay? What would you say that.
Yeah, I would tend to say if it's more it's a little more conversational, but again, don't shy away from weather. But in this case, the weather is kind of acting more like an F, isn't it, Michel? Because there aren't two options. Right? Right. We're not telling my bosses asked me whether I can work on Friday or Monday. It's really the same as saying if I can work on Friday. Right. Right, right.
And I just feel funny when, like not hearing whether or not I don't know. I feel like I gather in these situations.
Yeah, sure, sure, sure. Sure. That makes sense. Yeah. Technical. Yeah.
So guys, I mean the main idea is, I mean I think if is more common, you know, based on our conversations and you know, based on what I say, you know, consider if if you know that it's a conditional and you know, then this idea of like the two options are one option being vague or being you very exact and precise with weather.
But, you know, you know, really, again, keep listening to those conversations because the rules may be broken sometimes. And I, I personally think that if it's two options, I say if a lot and I guess I think I'm being clear. But if I were. But it could cause someone to ask another question, you know, like, oh, wait, what did you mean.
Just listen for these two. And just your next step, guys, is to go on to the world, listen to a lot of natural English movies, TV native conversations, and listen to how natives are using the to.
Right. That's the next step. OK, sure.
For sure. So we have a role play so we can we can, you know, go over this grammar all in one place. OK, let's do it.
So here we are at the store, right, Michelle shopping in the store. OK, we are ok. OK, I'm going to check and see whether or not they have apples. Good idea. If you find them, let me know. I will. I don't know whether I want chicken or beef for dinner tonight. Hmm.
I don't know if I want either. I was thinking a veggie meal actually. Oh OK.
That sounds good. I'm. To see if there are good values in the next aisle. You're going veg, yeah, yeah, I'm vegetarian most of the time, like 90 percent of the time I'll go for a vegetarian meal, too.
Yeah, I know, I know, I know.
Ah, yeah. You know, you're you're healthy. You're healthy, you're God. Not always.
But after five years of podcasting, we know what we what kind of meals we like. Right. I know.
Oh my gosh. You know what we should do once. We should do like a quiz show about each other to each other on ourselves.
I think actually that we did something like that over on Instagram. This is why you guys need to get over on social media, because occasionally we do quizzes in the stories. Right, quizzing how much you guys know about each of us, all four of us, Aubrey, Jessica, me and Michelle. Like, what do you know from the episodes we can find out about?
I mean I mean, even we like the two of us. Oh, yeah. It's like the Newlywed Game, except the that would be fun.
That would be really fun. But who's going to write the quiz. Yeah, I know. That's all right. Cool.
So let's go back and show our listeners then let's get back to grammar.
Let's get back to it. All right. So what did you say first? OK, I said, OK, I'm going to check and see whether or not they have apples. So it's either yes or no. Right. And that's why I used whether or not, OK.
Right. Right. And then I said, if you find them, let me know.
So there was a conditional OK. And then I said I will. I don't know whether I want chicken or beef. Again, we're weighing A or B, OK, guys. Yes, right.
And then I say I don't know if I want either. Right. So I might want and I don't think I want them at all. Yeah.
And then I'm going to see if there are good if there are good veggies in the next aisle. So are they're good. Yes or no. Right. So yeah. Yeah. Interesting. Good stuff.
So guys both are useful. Don't shy away from weather even though it's less common. But listen, listen, listen, listen to native speakers on this for sure.
Yeah. So guys, takeaway for today. Remember our tips, you know the things that we boiled it down to. Thanks again to grammar girl. Listen to that episode where she visited all ears in English and, you know, listen to how you hear these words and try it out. Don't get too bogged down.
But remember the basic rules. Yes. Good stuff. I'll leave a link back to Grammar Girl in the blog post, guys, and go ahead right now. Hit subscribe on your podcast player. If you enjoyed today's episode, we have many more just like this one and better even so, go ahead and hit. Subscribe to make sure you get every episode of English and become a part of the community. Right? Mashonee We believe in connection, not perfection.
Or that's our angle of learning English, right? Yes, absolutely. I love it. Oh my gosh, this was fun. So have a good one and I will talk to you later.
Good stuff, Michelle. I'll talk to you soon. Bye bye.
Thanks for listening to all ears English.
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