Whether or Whether or Not?

As an editor, one of my duties is to tighten someone’s writing, to get rid of extraneous fluff that adds nothing more than word count.

Though I could make an extensive list…I’ll confine myself to just this one pet peeve: Whether or not.

Do you really need the or not after whether? In most instances, no. The or not is just fluff begging to be edited out.

Take a look at this:

I didn’t know whether or not you would come home tonight.

What am I really concerned about here? Whether you would come home at all is what I’m concerned about, so the or not is extraneous. So, the correct form would be:

I didn’t know whether you would come home tonight.

In the next example, whether you come home or whether you don’t come home is equally important. You have a task to complete either way.

Text me whether or not you are going to come home tonight.

Had I said: Text me whether you are coming home tonight, I would only expect a text if you were coming home, not if you weren’t.

Do you see the difference?

 

 

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