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I have recently read through both "Whether or not" vs. "whether" and an article I found within it, found at http://afterdeadline.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/01/whether-or-not/

Using those resources, I have learned that if a "whether" clause modifies a verb, "or not" is needed: They will play tomorrow whether or not it rains. (The clause modifies "play.")

Would the following sentence use "or not" also, because of what I am assuming is an adverbial role: "Putting these videos on YouTube will be a good opportunity for figuring out whether or not a wider audience will enjoy them."

Or would the sentence not use the "or not?"

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An interrogative whether clause in adjunct (modifier) function doesn't necessarily need "or not". Compare:

They will play tomorrow whether or not it rains.

They’ll complain whether we play tomorrow or at the week-end.

"Or not" only occurs in the first of those two examples; nevertheless both whether clauses are adjuncts (modifiers), more specifically ‘exhaustive conditional adjuncts’. The first means They will play tomorrow if it rains and they will play tomorrow if it doesn’t rain: They’ll play under either of those conditions. The second means They’ll complain if we play tomorrow and they’ll complain if we play at the week-end: They'll complain under either of those conditions. In both cases, the two conditions exhaust the options, hence the 'exhaustive' component of the term 'exhaustive conditional'.

Putting these videos on YouTube will be a good opportunity for figuring out whether or not a wider audience will enjoy them.

This example is different from the other two, even though it still contains "or not", which is optional this time. It’s not an 'exhaustive conditional', and it does not function as an adjunct (adverbial) but as complement to the preposition "out". The whether clause is still an interrogative subordinate clause, though. The meaning can be glossed as “Putting these videos on YouTube will be a good opportunity for figuring out the answer to the question ‘Will a wider audience enjoy them, or not?”’

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In your example "or not" is redundant, in the same way as it is in the example from the linked article:

The teacher will base his decision on whether the car has been repaired.

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  • The article stated, "When the clause is the object of a preposition: The teacher will base his decision on whether the car has been repaired. (The clause is the object of on." Is my use of the "whether" clause an object of a preposition? Is it the object of something? Please help me understand. – LedZepp Dec 28 '16 at 12:04

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