When to Use Which of These Homophones?
The words “weather” vs. “whether” sound exactly the same, but mean very different things. Ahh, the tricky power of homophones!
As background, my name is Ms. Marshall, and I’ve been an English teacher for almost twenty years, now! I’m also an artist. Now, let’s learn how to distinguish and correctly use these commonly confused words, weather vs. whether, using some fun examples and my hand-drawn cartoons.
“Weather:” Definition and Meaning
The first step in knowing the difference between weather vs. whether is to know that the definition of the word “weather” (with an “ea” after the “w”) is a noun which refers to what the sky, temperature, and surrounding outdoor conditions are doing. Is it sunny or rainy outside? Hot or cloudy? Muggy, windy, or snowing? You’re talking about WEATHER.
One trick to remember this definition and spelling combo is to look at the first four letters of “weather,” which are “weat.” These letters are also present in the words “sweater” and “sweat” — two words that are frequently used when discussing what the weather conditions are outside! (Don’t write “weither” — that’s just wrong.)
Note: though “weather” is usually used a noun, it can also be used as a verb meaning “to endure or stay strong during difficult conditions” (ex: a literal or figurative storm), or to wear away at something long enough to make it look “weathered” like a piece of wood that’s been left out in the rain.
NOUN Examples of “Weather” in Sentences
• The weather for the past three weeks was so rainy that the streets filled with water, and octopi started partying on the highways!
• In the ABC Islands of the Caribbean, the weather is shockingly perfect, since Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao are all outside of the Hurricane Belt and thus out of harm’s way when storms barrel through.
Examples of “Weather as a VERB
• He was able to weather the storm of his father’s fury by taking deep breaths, then apologizing for breaking the statue, and helping his dad fix it.
• I was able to weather the caffeine withdrawal headaches that came with the process of quitting coffee by eating apples, getting extra sleep, sun, and exercise, and meditating.
• I want to weather my jeans so they become softer and lighter. Do you think it will achieve that effect if I put them through the dryer four hundred times?
(Note: If you want more about the elements, check out my free downloadable weather coloring pages!)
“Whether:” Synonyms and Definition
In the weather vs. whether battle, the word “whether” (with a “he” after the “w”) is a conjunction meaning: “if” or “even if.” When used in a sentence, the word is often followed by two alternatives that the speaker is picking between: often a dilemma. Sometimes the second option is explicitly stated, and sometimes it’s implied as “or not.”
One way to remember the definition of “whether” is to look at the second letter, “h,” which is the start of the onomatopoeia sound “hmm…” that people make when trying to decide between two things.
Examples of “Whether” in Sentences
• “Aww, I will always still love you, whether you’re freshly bathed or covered in mud.” (Note: This is based on an actual moment that just happened with my very grubby daughter.)
• I’m not sure whether you realize who you’re talking to, but I don’t allow people use that tone with me.
Weather vs. Whether VIDEO:
“Whether vs. Weather” Spelling Mistakes
Besides the confusion about whether to use the spelling “whether” or “weather,” there are all sorts of INCORRECT ways to spell these homophones which are bizarre mash-ups of the two correct words. How about “wheather” (which doesn’t exist at all as a real word)? And what about “wether?” That means “a castrated ram,” so I don’t think that’s what you’re trying to say, unless you’re really into farm gossip.
“Whether or Weather?” Solutions
Whether you’re a student or adult, there’s no shame in having mixed up these confusing homophones while writing! My hope is that with this cartoon lesson on weather vs. whether, you now have tools and tricks to whether the stress of spelling challenges, and emerge victorious!
See More English Lessons Here:
- Whose vs. Who’s
- Apart vs. A Part
- Everyday or Every Day?
- Passed vs. Past
- Flare vs. Flair
- What is CONTEXT?
- Metacognition Definition and Strategies
- Why is School Important?
- Liminal Space: Definition and Examples
- Juxtaposition Examples
- Foreshadowing Definition
The author and artist, Lillie Marshall, is a National Board Certified Teacher of English who has been a public school educator since 2003, and an experienced Reiki practitioner since 2018. All art on this site is original and hand-drawn by Lillie. She launched DrawingsOf.com Educational Cartoons in 2020, building upon the success of her other sites, AroundTheWorldL.com (established 2009), TeachingTraveling.com (founded 2010), and ReikiColors.com. Subscribe to Lillie’s monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media to stay connected!