A post says

In short, the reason sounds better, because in life as we and John know it, there is usually only one reason given by, or on behalf of, a murderer. This is true, whether John has heard about this specific case, this specific trial, this specific murderer, or not.

"This is true, whether", what grammar pattern is it?

I understand this simple conversation

A: Is this true? Did you really win that competition?

B: This is true.

I also understand another case

... this is true, no matter John has heard about ...

I don't understand the structure and the meaning of the whole sentence "This is true, whether John has heard about ..."

I understand the basic form of subordinate clauses, the part starting with whether is the object of the preceding verb.

I can’t decide whether to paint the wall green or blue. (or to paint the wall blue)

She didn’t know whether he was laughing or crying.

I guess "whether John has heard about ..." is a subordinate clause, but I can't tell what is the main clause. Could someone please give a hint? Thanks in advance.

  • This is true, whether you like it or not. :) :) Where you say; "I also understand another case", the grammar is inaccurate.
    – Lambie
    Mar 30, 2020 at 14:40
  • @Lambie Thank you. "I also understand another case". Did I misuse "another"?
    – WXJ96163
    Mar 30, 2020 at 14:45
  • @Lambie I guess I got it, the "whether ..." part, what does "this" refer to? Does it mean the fact "there is usually only one reason"?
    – WXJ96163
    Mar 30, 2020 at 14:48
  • Whether is a wh-word like what and when. It introduces an embedded yes/no question: I don't know whether he's laughing or crying means "I don't know the answer to the question 'Is he laughing or crying?'" Since yes/no questions give only two alternatives, often whether can be replaced by if. Mar 30, 2020 at 14:59
  • 1
    No, "this" basically refers to the entire first statement in the text. It is not that "I also understand another case" is grammatically wrong. It isn't. The grammar is OK, but we'd say something like: I understand there is also another case: x. :)
    – Lambie
    Mar 30, 2020 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


"This is true" is the main clause, and "whether...." is the subordinate clause.

... this is true, whether John has heard about ...

Since this clause follows a to-be verb, "whether" not "if" is used.

In the second example:

... this is true, no matter John has heard about ...

"no matter" does not introduce the indirect question of those things John may or may not have heard about. Introducing a series might utilize "no matter" (without "or not"):

... this is true, no matter what John has heard about this specific case, this specific trial, or this specific murderer.

Use of "no matter" alone does not establish a connection with "or not" at the end of the sentence. This would need to include "whether" or "if" to make the connection, but "if" would not be an option for an indirect question after a to-be verb in the main clause, and "no matter whether" would be redundant/unnecessary. Use of "no matter" may be interchangeable with "whether" in some situations, but not here.

  • Thank you so much. "Introducing a series might utilize", is "series" a grammar term here?
    – WXJ96163
    Mar 30, 2020 at 21:40
  • No, not a grammar term. This just happens to occur in this example. The independent part here is "what John has heard" that happens in this sentence to continue with a series/list of things he may have heard about. The introductory "no matter what" is a choice that may have been "regardless of what" or something similar. The point in that example was to show that "no matter" cannot stand alone, it needed "what" to make sense.
    – Katherine
    Mar 31, 2020 at 12:20

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