The Easy Explanation
“Whether” means if: The guide asked whether anyone had visited the museum before.
“Weather” means the climate: The weather took a turn for the worse, and it started to rain.
“Wether” means a castrated male sheep: The wether led the flock in entering the pen.
When to Use Whether vs. Weather vs. Wether
The word “whether” is a conjunction that more or less means if (as in showing choices or possibilities):
The leaders investigated whether attacking from the sea was an option.
The word “weather” can be a noun meaning all of those conditions that Mother Nature throws this way:
The weather was hot, so the kids walked to the swimming pool.
Weather can also be used as a verb meaning to show wear due to climate conditions (as in a weather-beaten outdoor chair). It can also be used as a verb meaning to show something withstood a test of time or place (as in weather a storm or weather a disaster).
“Wether” is a noun that means a castrated male sheep or goat. Unless you are writing about agricultural, “wether” is most likely simply a misspelling of the other two words. (A “bellwether,” however, is a different story. The bellwether (bell+wether) is a flock’s leader, which has a bell around its neck. Bellwether has come to mean a leader that is an indicator or predictor of trends: Beyoncé is a bellwether of fashion.)
Examples of Whether vs. Weather vs. Wether
- Whether she knew it or not, today was Kelly’s last day with the company. (meaning if)
- The extreme weather proved deadly for the sailors. (meaning conditions of the climate)
- The salty sea air will quickly weather the surfaces of any boat. (meaning to show wear due to the climate)
- Everyone thought the mighty tech industry could weather most any financial crisis. (meaning to withstand a test)
- The prize-winning wether was sold at auction to a rich rancher. (meaning a sheep)
How to Remember the Difference
Try this trick: Heat is part of weather, and both have an “ea” in the middle. That should help you remember which spelling is about the climate!
Theory Into Practice: Which Is Which?
Is the underlined word correct? See if you can tell.
- Siberia has a reputation for atrociously cold whether.
Wrong: This is about the climate, which means it should be “weather.”
- The company couldn’t whether the storm of the recession and had to close.
Wrong: This is about enduring a test, which means it should be “weather.”
- The speaker asked weather anyone had any questions.
Wrong: You can replace the word with “if,” meaning it is “whether.”