It seems to me that it's common to think that words "Whether" and "Weather" share the same pronunciation, simple google search produces the articles like http://www.elearnenglishlanguage.com/blog/english-mistakes/weather-vs-whether/ that say:

The words weather and whether have nothing in common other than their pronunciation

On the other hand I learned from my favorite English Pronunciation Course which is called "Master Spoken English", what WH can be pronounced as HW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOnRC1VjTMw&t=1m10s But I heard from native speakers that it could be really odd if I start to say words like "When" with the initial H, like "Hwen", there is the whole episode of Family Guy around "cool whips" : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZmqJQ-nc_s

But, in the name of clarity, I think that it might be a good idea to say "Hwether". I am curious how weird it would be from a native speaker point of view?

  • It would be a good idea to say "Hwether" if you meant the English word 'whether'. but not if you meant 'weather', because that is not the right way to say 'weather'.
    – Greg Lee
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 6:57
  • There are quite a lot of homophones in the English language, and in my experience they rarely lead to confusion. Surely the words whether and weather are different enough in their grammatical usage and semantics to avoid confusion?
    – oerkelens
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 7:29
  • oerkelens that's a good point! I tend to agree that it's quite difficult to get to the point wherein "whether" and "weather" could be confused.
    – sovo2014
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 12:07
  • I would not be surprised if, using carefully calibrated recording instruments, one could detect a difference in pronunciation of these terms among a subset of English speakers, particularly those who are more literate and who likely learned to read using "phonics" at a young age. But any difference is swamped by person-to-person variations and variations due to word context.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 12:36
  • 1
    See for example english.stackexchange.com/a/32811/9368 on the "wine/whine merger"
    – GEdgar
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 13:23

1 Answer 1


I think that what's causing the confusion is that the video linked to uses "HW" to refer to a sort of elongated "W" sound, which phonetically could be said to have an "H" sound in there but doesn't sound like someone actually saying "hwhere" or "hwhether", which people would tend to read as sounding more like "huh-where" and "huh-whether", which wasn't what the creators of the video intended at all.

I think that if you called it "a long W" then people might better understand the question.

But, to actually address the most important aspect of the question: I think you can pronounce "whether" and "weather" exactly the same as one another, with a short W sound, as that's what the majority of native English speakers do. If you try to stretch the W out you do run the risk of it sounding quite forced and odd.

I'm trying to think of any words where you do want to use the elongated W sound, but haven't thought of any so far.

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