Wether, Whether, Weather

by Craig Shrives

Wether, Weather, and Whether

What is the difference between "wether," "weather," and "whether"?
  • Wether. A wether is a castrated ram (male sheep).
  • 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.)
weather, whether or wether difference

Click on the Two Correct Sentences
(Interactive Game)

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A Video Summary

Here is a short video summarizing the differences between "weather," "whether," and "wether."

Wether

The word "wether" is most commonly seen as a misspelling for "whether" or "weather." A wether is a castrated ram (a male sheep) or a castrated billy (a male goat).

Farmers will 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) show more aggression (to people and their young) and tend to stink (as non-wethers urinate on themselves during breeding season and have active glands that excrete an unpleasant scent).

From a grammatical perspective, 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)

Common Terms with "Weather," "Whether," and "Wether"

Common terms with the word "Weather":
  • weather forecast
  • severe weather
  • under the weather
  • fair weather friend
  • to weather a storm
Common terms with the word "Whether":
  • whether or not
Common terms with the word "Wether":
  • Wetherspoons (British pub chain)
  • bellwether

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.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet?
What are nouns? What are contractions? What are interrogative pronouns? What are relative pronouns? 
List of easily confused words