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I often see prepositions that come before whether and I feel that most of the time these prepositions are unnecessary.

I'm confused as to whether a preposition is required before whether.

I haven't decided on whether to put a preposition before whether.

I don't know about whether a preposition is required before whether.

The times where I feel a preposition is preferred involve a noun coming before whether.

There's no news as to whether Jane will show up to today's meeting.

We haven't received an update on whether the party will arrive on time.

Is a preposition ever required before whether? If so, what are the circumstances where one would have to use a preposition before whether?

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    It's normal to include a preposition (as to, regarding, about, etc.) between confused and whatever causes the confusion, but no preposition is usually included after decide, know, choose, etc. – FumbleFingers Feb 14 '16 at 21:21
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    As FumbleFingers says, it is not about "whether": it is entirely about the word or phrase of which the "whether" clause is a complement, and what kind of complements that word or phrase requires or allows. – Colin Fine Feb 14 '16 at 21:32
  • @Colin Fine: Would it be "normal" in the linguistic world to say it depends on the affordances of the preceding clause? – FumbleFingers Feb 14 '16 at 22:00
  • @FumbleFingers: I don't recall seeing that word used, but I'm years behind in my reading ;-) The phrase I would use is its subcategorisation frame. – Colin Fine Feb 14 '16 at 22:21
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    @Colin Fine: I'll take that as a "No" then! :) I'm not trying to be a trailblazer here - if I could fluently use whatever terminology you're familiar with I'd be more than satisfied (and I know that's a seriously "irrealis" hypothetical! :) – FumbleFingers Feb 14 '16 at 22:24
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In all of your examples it's the preceding phrase, not the word whether, that controls the following word(s):

I'm confused as to whether a preposition is required before whether.
I'm confused as to the nature of your question.
I'm confused how often I need to ask the question. (I'd prefer confused about, but about is commonly omitted in practice, especially informally.)

I haven't decided on whether to put a preposition before whether.
I haven't decided on a dress to wear.
I haven't decided to take the job.

I don't know about whether a preposition is required before whether.
I don't know about history.
I don't know biology.
(In your sentence, I'd always omit about.)

There's no news as to whether Jane will show up to today's meeting.
There's no news as to the outcome of the election.
There's no news concerning the baby.

We haven't received an update on whether the party will arrive on time.
We haven't received an update on your progress.
We haven't received an update to the software.
(We always receive updates on or to things. On means "about a topic." To means the thing has been changed.)

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    More specifically, it's the predicate in the preceding clause that determines just about everything about its complement clauses. Whether is just one more complementizer, like what, where, that, for, to, etc, and simply identifies the type of complement, guided by the affordances and prohibitions of each individual predicate. – John Lawler Apr 2 '16 at 21:24
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It's not the use of whether or not that determines the need for a preposition, but the word before that preposition.


The phrase "as to" in the following sentence is used because of "confused," although it may be omitted.

I'm confused as to whether a preposition is required before whether.


The preposition "on" is in this sentence because of "decided."

I haven't decided on whether to put a preposition before whether.


The preposition "about" is in this sentence because of "know," although it may be omitted and not change the essence of the sentence.

I don't know about whether a preposition is required before whether.


In the sentence below, "as to" may be omitted and still have with a meaningful sentence.

There's no news as to whether Jane will show up to today's meeting.


In this sentence, "on" is there because of "update."

We haven't received an update on whether the party will arrive on time.

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