I would like to know whether the following three sentences are grammatically correct or acceptable.

  1. Whether to kill him or to keep him is up to you.
  2. I have to decide whether to kill him or to keep him.
  3. Whether to kill him or to keep him, we have to beware of the consequence.

I believe all are correct but perhaps a bit stilted, or less than comfortable.

It would be more natural to say Whether to kill him or keep him. The missing to would certainly be understood. This would be common for spoken English or written as a quote from someone. Perhaps you should ask him. He may have a better answer.


Whether to kill him or to keep him is a phrase that functions as a subject in 1 and an object in 2.

Whether to eliminate the second to in the phrase is a matter of style.

But 3 is incorrect. The phrase is unattached to anything; it would be grammatical if it were changed to whether we kill him or keep him.”

  • Thank you both for replying. I would like to add another sentence: Whether he trusted me, or whether he pitied me, I will do what he told me to do. – Chien Te Lu Jun 22 '19 at 7:13
  • That one is fine, although the first comma is unnecessary. – Xanne Jun 22 '19 at 7:49
  • I wouldn't go along with you there. "Whether to kill him or to keep him" is not a phrase but a subordinate interrogative infinitival clause. In 2. for example, it's not an object, but complement of "decide". The meaning can be glossed as "I have to decide whether I should kill him or keep him". – BillJ Jun 22 '19 at 10:25
  • @billjnThank you for this correction. I’ll delete whenever there’s another answer that doesn’t identify 3 as correct. – Xanne Jun 22 '19 at 10:37
  • @BillJ What do you think about sentence 3? – Chien Te Lu Jun 22 '19 at 17:12

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