She starts whistling into his ear as if to check whether he really is dead.

She starts whistling into his ear as if she's checking whether he really is dead.

  1. Is there any difference these?

  2. Does "as if to check" refer to her and why she's whistling into his ear or is it more used to mean "as one does to check"?

  3. Could I use "if" instead of "whether" in both sentences without changing the meaning?

  4. Which one is the better option do you think?

1 Answer 1


To check and checking both carry the same sense of an action, you could use either. As if to check is the usual phrase, as if [she's] checking has more of a sense that you're narrating events as they happen, because of that continuous form. It's a style thing, really.

The phrase is as if, as whether doesn't really work in the same way (you'll see those two words together in sentences, but as part of a completely different construction). You can use as though instead, that works (but not for the exclamation, as if! which means "that's not true, how ridiculous!")

  • This is wrong and misleading. "I am checking" is very different from "I am going to check".
    – Astralbee
    Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 13:49
  • The question's example is as if to check vs as if checking, I'm not covering every possible usage of the -ing form here! Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 14:06

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