+0
a) They will be late, whether the reason be/is they left late or got stuck in traffic.

b) They will be late, whether it be/is because they left late or got stuck in traffic.

Any preferences between 'be' 'is' and 'a' and 'b'? If so, why?

Thanks
1 2
Comments  
"be" is more formal than "is".

In (a), I prefer "... that they left late ...".

Of the options given, I would in conversation most naturally say "... whether it's because ...", but I'd probably repeat "because they" after "or".
I agree with MrWordy, but in casual conversation I'd probably cheat and repeat only the "they," skipping the "because." I'm sure the "because" would be "understood" in my mind.

The reason I prefer (b) over (a) is that the word "because" renders the word "reason" superfluous.

Also, there are occasions when I feel old, and at those times I enjoy using the subjunctive (be).
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
whether the reason be No.

whether it be that ... or .... OK.
whether it be because ... or (because) .... OK, but not typical.

My impression is that "whether it be" is a more-or-less fixed expression typically followed by very short descriptive phrases, rarely full clauses. Besides, I find it literary more than conversational.

whether it be now or later
whether it be blue or red
whether it be a Protestant or a Catholic
whether it be the government or its representatives

CJ
Hi, Jim.

Do you accept "Whether the reason is. . . "?

Best wishes, - A. Emotion: smile
Yes, of course. I'm just saying that in modern English, about the only case that survives of whether ... be is whether it be, though an occasional whether he/she/they/I/ ... be might slip through!

Emotion: smile

CJ
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
CalifJimYes, of course. I'm just saying that in modern English, about the only case that survives of whether ... be is whether it be, though an occasional whether he/she/they/I/ ... be might slip through!
We differ a little here. In British English -- in my experience anyway -- whether he/she/they/I/ ... be survive fairly happily in more formal wrting. The original whether the reason be is also acceptable to me in formal writing. None of these are patterns that I would use or expect to hear in everyday conversation though.
Be he alive or be he dead
I'll grind his bones to make my bread.

Emotion: big smile
Mr WordyWe differ a little here.
I suspect the objective difference is nil -- merely an artifact of our placing an arbitrary dividing line in a slightly different position.

CJ
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Show more