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Can't make out whether it is possible to say this or not:

The vicar was afraid of a scandal, no matter the verger was good at his work or not.

OR

The vicar was afraid of a scandal, no matter was the verger good at his work or not.

Thank you in advance!

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  • What was the scandal that the vicar was trying to avoid ? Has it got something to do with the verger ?
    – Varun Nair
    Jan 18 '16 at 5:56
  • My question is actually about the verb after "no matter", I can't figure out the right 'formula' - is it no matter was he good or not OR no matter he was good or not... The word order is still confusing for me.
    – A. Arpine
    Jan 18 '16 at 6:01
  • It is not clear what you're trying to say. If the verger was indeed good at his work, but that fact was beside the point as far as the vicar was concerned, you could say: The vicar was afraid of a scandal—no matter that the verger was good at his work. You must leave off "or not" in that case. Jan 18 '16 at 20:00
  • But if the vicar considers the entire question of the verger's skill at his job to be beside the point, that is, he does not care if the verger is good at his work or if the verger is bad at his work, and he doesn't even want to get involved in that debate because it is irrelevant, then "...no matter whether the verger was good at his work (or not)" as StoneyB has indicated. Jan 18 '16 at 20:19
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You really need whether here rather than that

No matter that X works fine if X is a single thing or a list of things which do not matter:

The vicar was afraid of a scandal, no matter that the verger was good at his work.

The vicar was afraid of a scandal, no matter that the verger was good at his work, was popular with the congregation and was well regarded.

This construction presents one or more conditions each of which is true but irrelevant.

But what you are aiming at is what The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language calls an exhaustive conditional, in which the "two conditions constitute an exhaustive set: one of them must be satisfied". That is, either the verger is good at his work or he is not good at his work; they cannot both be true; but in either case, the vicar was afraid of a scandal. You need whether (which is equivalent to 'which of either') to express that it is irrelevant which of these two exclusive possibilities is true.

The vicar was afraid of a scandal, no matter whether the verger was good at his work or not.

The clause following whether takes the normal order, without subject/auxiliary inversion.

Note that the phrase no matter can be omitted here; the sense of irrelevance is folded into the exhaustive conditional:

The vicar was afraid of a scandal, whether the verger was good at his work or not.

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  • Thank you very much, now I see that the word "whether" is what I need in this sentence, you've really helped me. Just one question – is it totally impossible to do without this word, I mean, without "whether"? Is it just unheard of not to use it and what is then to be corrected in this: The vicar was afraid of a scandal, no matter the verger was good at his work or not. This subject appeared to be really puzzling for me😔
    – A. Arpine
    Jan 18 '16 at 12:32
  • could you please try to answer to my previous comment🙏 thanks...
    – A. Arpine
    Jan 18 '16 at 13:41
  • @A.Arpine No: I can't think of a way to express an x or not condition here without whether. Jan 18 '16 at 13:53
  • @StoneyB You could use the word if here if you don't want to say whether (and also if you want to drop the or not but keep the same meaning). Jan 18 '16 at 15:01
  • @Araucaria Hmm ... I spose; but I'm uncomfortable with if for whether there. And if you do drop the or not, if seems to me to imply a sotospeak restricted irrelevance, not exhaustive irrelevance. In any case, I'm reluctant to recommend if for whether to a learner. Jan 18 '16 at 15:08

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