Usage of the phrase "whether it is"



Many people use the phrase "whether it is" to introduce lists or alternatives at the beginning of sentences.

Can we also use "whether it is" in this way in other sentence positions such as in the following sentence:

Unfortunately, human beings have limited ability to prevent an unhappy experience from happening in life, whether it is disease, injury, or the death of a family member.


Posted 2016-02-14T01:27:37.900

Reputation: 71

1Can't resist: "To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune, Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles ..." – fred2 – 2016-02-19T16:23:56.267



Yes, you have used the phrase correctly.

Here are some examples of how it is used after other sentence elements.

And, frankly, quite a lot has happened on our watch, whether it is the need to get Afghanistan right and draw down our troops, the huge fight we have had to try and clear up our banking systems and get our economies growing, while dealing with our deficits.

Date 2015 (150118) Title Interview With British Prime Minister David Cameron; Source CBS

And, again, I would really like to see a president who would sincerely say, I want to work with Congress to address these problems, whether it is cyber-security or whether it's terrorism or the Ukraine or what China is doing.

Date 2015 (150120) Title PBS NewsHour for January 20, 2015 Source PBS

When you look at these activist groups, whether it is Black Lives Matter or occupy Wall Street or PETA, you're always going to get the idiotic fringe people in there, because there's no quality control.

Date 2015 (150825) Title THE FIVE for August 25, 2015 Source Fox

And, racism is the new modern day civil rights movement for these kids today, whether it is on a college campus or in the streets, where they do not feel safe.

Date 2015 (151109)
Title President of University Of Missouri Resigns; Cell Phone Video Captures School`s Security Guard Being Pummeled By A Student; 18-Year-Old Student Faces Assault; School Officer Confronts Student Over A H
Source CNN

We look for places of common interest, whether it is around health or clean water or agriculture.

Date 2015 Publication information Jul2015, Vol. 59 Issue 6, p64-69. 6p. 3 Color Photographs. Title THE HIGH PRICE OF FAITH IN ACTION Author Morgan, Timothy C.; Source Christianity Today

That's a sign of how quickly public sentiment has shifted on gay marriage, but it's also an indicator of how strongly many U.S. corporations feel compelled to weigh in on social issues, whether it is gay rights, the gender gap in pay or the fight over the Confederate flag.

Date 2015 Publication information 7/10/2015, Vol. 165 Issue 2, p26-33. 7p. 9 Color Photographs. Title CORPORATE REBEL YELL Author CADEI, EMILY; Source Newsweek Global

This instruction goes through the API, whether it is DX11, DX12, or AMD's Mantle.

Date 2015 Publication information May2015, Vol. 33 Issue 5, p68-76. 9p. Title DirectX 12's potential performance leap is insane Author UNG, GORDON MAH; Source PC World

This is true whether the smoke is from cigarettes, marijuana, or a forest fire, and whether it is primary smoke that you directly inhale or secondary smoke that you inhale after someone else has.

Date 2015 Publication information Mar/Apr2015, Vol. 287 Issue 2, p74-74. 1/2p. Title ASK DR. ZIPES Author Zipes, Douglas; Source Saturday Evening Post

However, teachers have no control over what goes on at home, whether it is income, homework assistance, or diet and hygiene.

Date 2015 (150208) Publication information PERSPECT; Pg. 2D Title The Open Forum Letters to the Editor Source Denver Post

Evaluators often consider the reputation of the journal in which the article was published and whether it is an international, national, state, or local publication.

Date 2015 Publication information Fall2014, Vol. 81 Issue 1, p19-25. 7p. Title Out with the Old and In with the New: One University Department's Experience with Revisions of the Tenure-and-Promotion Policy Author Pyle, Elizabeth; Source Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

There is much celebration of the efficiency savings and gains for work-life balance to be made from enabling your workforce to work remotely or on the go, whether it is from home, on a train, bus or in a coffee shop between meetings.

Date 2015 Publication information May2015, Vol. 67 Issue 5, p24-24. 1p. Title Mobiles and RSIs Author Christopherson, Robin; Source Occupational Health

Meanwhile, the older and more knowing characters, notably the next-door Satanists Roman and Minnie Castevet, observe current events with cynical contempt, whether it is NASA programs or the Pope's visit.

Date 2014 Publication information Sep2014, Vol. 37 Issue 3, p314-330. 17p. Title Demonizing the Sixties: Possession Stories and the Crisis of Religious and Medical Authority in Post-Sixties American Popular Culture Author Quinlan, Sean M.; Source Journal of American Culture

And he is confident that the chemical study of autocatalysis will play some part, whether it is the Kauffman-championed network variety or some more restricted type more like that used in many biochemical reactions in cells.

Date 2013 Publication information Mar2013, Vol. 63 Issue 3, p157-163. 7p. Title Life 2.0 Author BEARDSLEY, TIMOTHY M.; Source BioScience

He is a very busy horse that doesn't miss anything around him, and he seeks items to play with, whether it is a horse brush, a groom's jacket or a horse blanket within his reach.

Date 2012 (120616) Publication information SPORTS Title A Suitcase Packed With Expectations, Stowed Away Until Next Year Author JULIE JUNE STEWART Source New York Times

All texts excerpted from search results on

Davies, Mark. (2008-) The Corpus of Contemporary American English: 520 million words, 1990-present. Available online at Accessed Feb 2, 2016.

Jim Reynolds

Posted 2016-02-14T01:27:37.900

Reputation: 9 616

2Hi, Jim. Your answer is shorter than the comment above. Please delete this answer and put it as a comment. I am not the downvoter, but I don't think your post answers the question. – None – 2016-02-14T10:56:14.537

2You are wasting my time. Just delete it. Is it too hard? If your answer stands, then, the question is proof-reading question, isn't it? Aren't you going to close vote it? – None – 2016-02-14T11:51:46.863

Jim's answer is, for me, TLDR, but is accurate. I would recommend a short para explaining the general usage, followed by a statement explicitly introducing the examples. I think the number of examples could be cut radically, and still make the point. Perhaps add a tip at the end "more examples at . . ." etc. Regardless, I'm giviing this an upvote as the best answer so far. – Corvus B – 2016-02-21T02:21:10.093

@Jim Reynold, You've explained the use of the phrase whether it's very convincingly. – Khan – 2016-02-26T13:12:18.893


'whether' is a WH-connector used as conjuction or preposition. As a subordinating conjunction it introduces both noun clause and adverbial clause. It begins the first of two or more alternatives and sometimes repeated before the second or subsequent alternatives usually with the corelative 'or'. As for example:

• It matters little whether we go or stay.(sub NC)

•whether you like or not, you have to go to bed now.(Sub Adv.clause)

Similarly, whether can introduce phrases.

• whether to read or write, the teacher would decide.

'Whether it is' is an way of expressing alternatives. In the post it is effectively used as appositives to 'an unhappy experience'.

Barid Baran Acharya

Posted 2016-02-14T01:27:37.900

Reputation: 942