Wether, Weather, Whether

By Sharon

Wether is a prime example of a word that will slip past the spell check. It is easily confused with two of its homonyms, whether and weather. Flying fingers find it easy to miss the single letter that separates them. Unless you’re a farmer, you might not even know that wether is either a:

male sheep or ram (the Oxford Dictionary of Etymology traces its roots to Old English, Old High German, Old Norse and Goth)

or a:

castrated ram or billy goat (according to A Word A Day).

We all know that MS Word can be easily confused, but there’s no need for us to face the same confusion.

Weather, that stuff up there in the sky, is the ‘condition of the atmosphere with respect to heat or cold, calm or storm, etc’. That’s according to the Oxford Dictionary of Etymology.

Interestingly, when it was first used in Old English in the 12th century, weather always had adverse implications. In the 14th century, the term also referred to the wind direction, and its roots lie in various terms meaning either wind or storm.

Weathering, derived from weather, is the result of exposure to wind and weather.

The frequently misspelled whether is used to introduce a question, often outlining a choice between options. Its roots lie in Old English and Old High German.

Here’s my attempt at using them all in a sentence. The farmer wondered whether the adverse weather had affected his wether.

Click here to get access to 800+ interactive grammar exercises!


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27 Responses to “Wether, Weather, Whether”

  • Guardian Angel

    Hi! I am one of those who just found this site. I really find this very interesting and informative.

    I am not sure if I am on the right post to post a comment. But I hope somenone here can differentiate the word “advise” and advice” and how they should be used in a sentence. Though I know that there is no such thing as an advicer, but rather adviser. Both words seem to have the same meaning, that is, to give tips, am I right?

    Thanks and I am proud to be included in one of your thousands of subscribers.

  • Jeanne

    My mum often said to me when I was little, ‘A man stood on a hill and wondered, whether The wether would weather The weather or whether The weather the wether would kill.’

    I hope that’s correct.

  • jozritj

    In fact, advise is a verbe: I advise, you advise… and advice is a noun: an advice.

  • arbee

    hi,

    Well said about the use and meaning of “advise” and “advice”. Man, this site really is cool.

    thank you

  • jonathan

    Weather, whether or wether?
    Great advice and first to pop up on G search.
    Thanks i may be back.

  • Gaylon

    Correction to my last post: I believe I’d written, “The weather had been forecast…” rather than, “the weather was forecast”. Seems the verbage was her issue wanting to use “forecasted” rather than “forecast”. I don’t believe there is a difference, yet still – the conflict. Whacha think?

  • mina

    Ha, that’s funny. I just came across this site because I was trying to spell “whether” and spelt “wether” instead. I didn’t think it looked right and looked it up in dictionary on the mac. I was like, “That’s not what I meant!”

  • ebook

    so where’s the ebook? there wasn’t a link in the email

  • Guetta

    Yep, first on google for me either. I find the english language somewhat tricky and I hope this site will help me. Going to browse some more and might get addicted 🙂

  • beef

    A way that I like to remember this is that a wether is missing something, and weAther is about the Atmosphere, and whether you can remember those two will determine whether you can spell whether correctly.

  • njuod

    good one beef!!! now it’s very easier to remember. thanks!

  • yochi

    In college marching band, our director used to say “we have weather” whenever it was raining. We all thought it was odd. Now I understand what he may have just been using the word in its original sense.

  • Obeakemeh matthew

    Good day to you, am a Nigerian. Infact, am really pleased with how you elaborated those latin abbreviations. I love it. I bursted in this morning not knowing it’s an educative site.

  • Judith

    Hi, does anyone know if there’s a book or a site which tackles extensively the proper use of prepositions? Please help…

  • Judith

    By the way, i love this site. It’s so informative yet simple in approach… keep up

  • musafirs

    To all the English scholars who pride urselves.
    who said english is easy ?

    fill this blanks with yes or No…..

    1.__________ _____ i don’t have a brain.
    2.__________ _____ I don’t have any sense.
    3. ____________ ___ i am stupid.
    4. ____________ ___ i am mad.

    Try to fill . all the best…

  • Jim

    So the farmer was wondering whether the adverse weather had weathered his wether?

  • Dee

    respondng to beef:
    The word wether is missing two things!

  • danilo libanan

    this site is simple yet very informative and helpful..

  • Jeff

    To me and many other native anglophones, “whether” has a different first sound and is therefore not a homophone of the other two words.

  • Brian

    What of weather with the meaning of “To endure”? Weather the storm. Whether the battle. Wether the illness. Must say the first one looks correct to me. Despite the use of the word storm I think this is an entirely different meaning from either of the ones above. Which is correct?

  • venqax

    Weather the storm is the correct form. The allusion is to withstanding the bad weather, hostile elements, etc.

    Jeff: AMEN and BLESS YOU! Yes, whether, begins with an HW sound, not a W sound. This is the rearing head of that loathsome monster called the whine/wine merger– one of the signs of the apocalypse, actually– that some Beastial conspiracy keeps trying to pass under the radar. Evidently the British- those stoic keepers of the language’s flame– have already gone over to the Slobonians on this one. Barbarians.

  • Helen

    Wonderful site that I have just stumbled upon! When I was in 2nd grade my teacher, like many of us in that Canadian classroom was of Scottish descent. As a pronunciation and spelling exercise she had us recite and also write out, “Whether the weather be fine, or whether the weather be not, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather, whether we like it or not!” (No mention of the wether and what he might be missing for our tender ears.) I realize to my chagrin that that was 60 years ago.

  • Helen

    I left out a line of the above. It should read: Whether the weather be fine, or whether the weather be hot, whether the weather be cold or whether the weather be hot, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather, whether we like it or not.

  • venqax

    She being Scottish, I hope the purpose of the exercise was to emphasize the differences between the H, W, and HW sounds? HWether the Weataher be Hot, or HWatever? I Hope so.

  • Bre

    My mother’s from Trinidad and in grade school they used the phrase: “Whether the weather is hot or whether the weather is not, we’ll weather the weather whatever the weather, whether we like it or not.” I’ve used it both as a tongue twister and explanation of the two uses of weather and the use of whether.

  • Roger DESHON

    English is described as a ‘bastard’ language, being as it derives from so many linguistic ‘relationships’ and joinings, such as Latin and Greek. It has been called the hardest language for a non native speaker to learn and the ‘whether’ examples show why. Then we have through and thorough ET CETERA. I love studying Latin and still try to use it so as to keep it alive.

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