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Weather, Whether, or Wether?

What Is the Difference between "Weather," "Whether," and "Wether"?

homeconfused wordsWeather, Whether, or Wether?
the quick answer

The Quick Answer

  • Weather. Weather refers to the state of the atmosphere (e.g., temperature, wind, clouds, rain).
  • Whether. Whether is a conjunction with a similar meaning to if (e.g., I wonder whether it will rain.)
  • Wether. A wether is a castrated ram (male sheep).

Wether, Weather, and Whether

The words wether, weather, and whether sound identical, but their meanings are very different.
wether weather whether
(A wether is is castrated ram)

Wether

The word wether is ususally a misspelling for whether or weather, but it is a word in its own right. A wether is a castrated ram (a male sheep) or a castrated billy (a male goat).

Farmers castrate their male goats or sheep to create wethers to ensure only the best male breeds with the females. Also of note, non-wethers (i.e., uncastrated males) are more aggressive (to people and their young) and usually smell (as non-wethers urinate on themselves during breeding season and have active glands that excrete an unpleasant scent).

In grammar, the word wether is a noun. (More specifically, wether is a common noun and a gender-specific noun.)

Whether

The conjunction whether is similar to if. It is most often used to introduce an indirect question. (Provided the spelling is correct, whether is generally used correctly by native English speakers. The rules for using whether are covered in more detail in the lesson Whether and If.)

Examples:
  • Sarah wants to know whether the visit is still on schedule.
  • I am going to the fair, whether it's raining or not.

Weather

As a noun, the word weather means the atmosphere in terms of temperature, wind, clouds, and precipitation. As a verb, to weather can mean to withstand or to endure(e.g., to weather an onslaught) or to erode (over time) (e.g., to weather the surface rock).

Examples:
  • I am not going fishing today. Have you seen the weather?
  • (weather as a noun)
  • We'll anchor up, weather the storm and then head back to land.
  • (weather as a verb meaning to endure)
  • The sea will weather that rope in less than a week.
  • (weather as a verb meaning to erode)

A Quick Test

teachers note

A Note from Teacher

Did The Wether Survive?

If you can follow this sentence, you have a good grasp of weather, whether, and wether:
The farmer looked out the window and wondered whether the wether would weather the weather or whether the weather would kill the wether.


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