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My understanding is that "whether" reflects a choice between at least two alternatives, so is the usage in the following sentence correct?
"A participant decides whether he wants to proceed to the next stage"

or do I have to explicitly state "or not" as in:

"A participant decides whether he wants to proceed to the next stage or not"

  • You can leave it out, but if you want to include it, it would be better to say "whether or not he wants to proceed". – Kate Bunting Jul 2 '17 at 10:25
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    No, it's redundant in your example since it adds nothing to the meaning, which can be glossed as: "A participant decides the answer to the question 'Does he want to proceed to the next stage (or not)?"' "Or not" is normally only obligatory in exhaustive conditionals like "They will play tomorrow whether or not it rains", where the clause is an adjunct, as opposed to a complement. – BillJ Jul 2 '17 at 11:10
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"Whether or not" is used when the subject is choosing between two actions, one of which is the exact opposite of the other. (To do an action, or to not do an action.)

E.g. The participant's choices:

  • Advancing to the next stage
  • Not advancing to the next stage

The participant decides whether or not he wants to proceed to the next stage.

"Whether" is used when the subject is choosing between two unrelated actions, and is usually followed by an phrase with "or" as the conjunction.

E.g. The participant's choices:

  • Advancing to the next stage
  • Keeping the prize money

The participant decides whether he wants to proceed to the next stage or keep the prize money.

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