Following up on Tuesday’s post, I think a lot of people reflexively use if instead of whether because the latter is homophonous with weather. We already have enough trouble with its and it’s (not to mention medal, meddle, metal, and mettle), and it’s just easier to avoid embarrassment, even if that means being a little less clear.
I get it. In fact, I’m pretty sure the only reason I’m slightly less inclined to make that mistake is that, when I was a kid, I learned that yet another spelling and meaning exists: A wether is a castrated ram.* Which makes weather, wether, and whether multinyms.
*I learned this from, um, castrating rams. Which led to coming up with what 12-year-old me thought was a knee-slappingly hilarious joke: I’d choose the next victim from the pen and announce, “He’s next.” Then I’d grab my trusty elastrator and get to work. After the poor lamb staggered back to the flock in shame, I’d turn to my step-dad and say, “I just predicted the wether!”
Get it? Get it?