Weather or Whether: What's the Difference?

Get a memory trick to remember the spelling of "weather" and "whether."

Mignon Fogarty

People often have trouble remembering which word is spelled "weather" and which word is spelled "whether." Here's my memory trick:

Weather (such as a storm) affects the sea, and "sea" is spelled with an "ea" just like "weather."

  • Weather affects the sea.

The other spelling ("whether") is a conjunction that introduces choices:

  • I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
  • Squiggly wasn't sure whether Aardvark would be able to make it to the party

Just remember the "sea" trick for "weather," and then you know that "whether," the conjunction, is the other spelling.

And here’s a final tidbit you’re unlikely to know already: "wether" is a real word too. It’s the name for a castrated ram. 

Quiz: 'Whether' or 'Weather'

Fill in the blank:

1. Check the ________________ before you leave for the airport.

2. I'm not sure ____________________ I want to buy tickets ahead of time.

3. The rainy __________________ is getting me down.

4. Have you heard the ________________ report today?

5. Do you know ________________ it is supposed to rain tomorrow?

6. _______________ Aardvark can make it to the party depends on the ___________________.


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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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