Grammar-QuizzesNoun Phrases › Whatever Phrases

Wh-ever Phrases

Refer to any one or express "free choice"

girls gossiping
 

 

Whoever Noun Phrases (personal)

WHOEVER

Whoever means "it doesn't matter who" or "any person who" and is singular in agreement with the verb. It is often called a "fused relative" because the relative clause ("wants to know") is fused (joined) to the head noun ("whoever") of the noun phrase.That is to say, relative clause is contained inside the noun phrase.

SUBJECT  VERB COMPLEMENT 
NOUN PHRASE VERB NP / ADJ

Whoever wants to know

Who wants to know

Whoever

can ask

me. (DO)

Whoever you talk to

To whomever you talk

will be

jealous.   (Adj)

NP VERB NOUN PHRASE

You

told

whoever wanted to know. 

You

told

who(m)ever you met.

ANY PERSON

A similar meaning may be expressed as any person; the person is indefinite "any" [Any [determiner] + person [N]] + who wants to know [relative clause].                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

SUBJECT  VERB COMPLEMENT
NOUN PHRASE VERB NP / ADJ

Any person who wants to know

Any wants to know

Any person

can ask

me. (DO)

Any person who(m) you talk to

To any person you talk

will be

jealous.   (Adj)

NP VERB NOUN PHRASE

You

 

told

any person who asked you.

You

 

told

any person who you met.

 

See Huddleston "The fused relative construction" 12 §6.

 

 

 

Shifting emphasis to another part of the sentence

USUAL WORD ORDER

Usually, we focus on the person doing the action. However, we can shift the focus by isolating information that we want to emphasize.

EMPHASIS ACTION OTHER
SUBJ VERB COMPLEMENT

You

told

my secret to someone [who was jealous

You

will bake

something [that will be delicious.]

WH-EVER PHRASE

We can use a wh-phrase to package up the content of the sentence and then add a be verb with an opinion comment (an adjective or modifier).

PACKAGED iNFORMATION STATE EMPHASIS
SUBJ WH-EVER-PHRASE BE ADJ / MODIFIER

Whomever you told my secret to

Anyone to whom you told my secret

was

jealous. 

Whatever you bake

Anything that you bake   

will be

delicious.  

 

 

See Cleft Clauses for information packaging.

 

 

 

 

 

"Whatever" Phrase

Express "free choice" or "all"

 

 

Whatever Phrases  (nonpersonal)

WHATEVER

Whatever means It doesn't matter what, any thing that, the unknown thing that and is singular in agreement with the verb. The noun phrase ("fused-relative") may function as the subject or object of the clause.

SUBJECT (NP) VERB PHRS. COMPLEMENT

Whatever he says

is

true.  (Adj)

Whatever you want

will will be done.

 

SUBJECT (NP) VERB OBJECT (NP)

You

can have

whatever you please.

whatever you wish.

whatever you like.

whatever you want.

ANY THING

A similar meaning may be expressed as anything [that + clause]                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

SUBJECT (NP) VERB PHRS. COMPLEMENT

Anything  that he says

All  that he says

is

true. (Adj)

Anything  that you want

All  that you want

will be done.

 

SUBJECT (NP) VERB OBJECT (NP)

You

can have

anything that you please.

anything that you wish

anything that you like

anything that you want

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Whichever" & "Whatever" as Determiners

Express free choice "any one"

 

 

 

Whichever Phrases

DETERMINER

Whichever and whatever can also function as a determiners. In the examples below, they express a meaning of "free choice" or "no particular one".

SUBJECT OF MAIN CLAUSE

Whichever book you read will tell you the same.

Whatever book you read will tell you the same.

OBJECT OF MAIN CLAUSE

You may have whichever one you want.

You may have whatever one you want.

ANY PERSON

A similar meaning may be expressed as any person / thing [that + clause]

SUBJECT OF MAIN CLAUSE

Any book (that) you read will tell you the same.

 

OBJECT OF MAIN CLAUSE

You may have any one (that) you want.  

 

Also see A Determiner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"However" Phrases

Express "any manner"

 

 

 

However Phrases

HOWEVER

However means "it doesn't matter how", "any way that" and is singular in agreement with the verb. The noun phrase ("fused-relative") may function as the subject or object of the clause.

SUBJECT (NP) VERB PHRS. COMPLEMENT  (Adj / DO)

However you dress

always looks

good.  NP

 

You

can explain

however you want.   

ANY WAY

A similar meaning may be expressed as in any way that (PP).

SUBJECT (NP) VERB PHRS. COMPLEMENT  (Adj / DO)

Any way you dress

always looks

good.  NP

 

You

can explain

in any manner (that) you want.

 

 

 

However Phrases

HOWEVER

However can also function as a degree adverb that modifies an adjective or an adverb. However + adjective or however + adverb expresses a meaning of concession  "though" "even if".

MAIN CLAUSE ADVEREB–DEGREE

She'll never be quiet

however much she tries.
(as much/hard as she tries)
however + adverb

You cannot buy true friendship

however rich you are. 
(as rich as you are; even if you are rich)
 however + adjective

He cannot hide his dishonesty

however cleverly he speaks.
(even though he speaks cleverly)
 however + adverb

ANY WAY

A similar meaning may be expressed as "no matter how", "even if" or "as much as" (PP).                                                                                                                                                                        

MAIN CLAUSE ADVEREB–DEGREE

She'll never be quiet

no matter how much she tries.

(as much as she tries)

You cannot buy true friendship

no matter how rich you are.  
(even if you are very
)

He cannot hide his dishonesty

no matter how cleverly he speaks.
(even if he speaks very cleverly

 

See Huddleston "Adverbial modifiers of adjectives and adverbs" 6 §7.2.

 

 

 

 

Wh-ever + Clause

Initial vs final placement

 

 

 

Clause Position

INITIAL SENTENCE POSITION

use a commaAn object wh-ever noun phrase may be placed before the main clause (set off by a comma) for emphasis.

Whichever one you want, you can have. 

Whenever you please, you can phone me

Wherever we went, people talked about us.

However you travel, it will take a day to get there

FINAL SENTENCE POSITION

don't use a commaA wh-ever phrase may be placed after the verb.  In both initial and final positions, the wh-ever clause functions as the complement to the verb.

You can have whichever one you want. (any one that)

You can phone me whenever you please.  (any time that)

People talked about us wherever we went (any place that)

It will take a day to get there however you travel(any manner that)

 

 

 

Rewording Wh-ever Clauses

WH-EVER CLAUSE

These sentences can be rephrased by returning the words to standard order.

Whoever telephones, (you) tell them I am out.   (Any person who, no matter who)

Whoever you are, I'm not opening the door.   (No matter who, regardless of who)

Whatever your reason is, (you) make sure it is a good one.    (No matter what, regardless of what)

Whatever she said to you, you can believe. (No matter what)

CLAUSE REPHRASED

When the clause is returned to standard word order, it may be necessary to add or delete words.

Tell them whoever telephones that I am out.  (direct object)

Tell any  person who telephones that I am out.

I'm not opening the door for whoever you are. (indirect object)

I'm not opening the door no matter who you are

Make sure your reason is good, whatever it is.¹  (modifying clause)

Make sure your reason is good, no matter what it is.

You can believe whatever she said to you(direct object)

You can believe any/something that she said to you

 

¹ This modifier is actually misplaced. It modifies reason. However, the correct placement produces an awkward sound sentence:  Make sure your reason, whatever it is, is good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wh–ever

Determiner

Whichever one Whichever one you want, you can have
 

 

Wh-ever as a determiner to a noun

WH–EVER

In these sentences, whichever and whatever function as determiners — any/some in a modifying clause.

Whatever occasion arrives, she bakes. 

Whatever reasons she had, she went out. 

Whichever day you choose, just let us know.  
 

REPHRASED

A similar meaning may be expressed with any.

She bakes for any occasion that arrives.

She went out for any reason that she had.

Let us know any day that you choose.

 

A Determiner are words that come before nouns such as: a, an, one, some, any, this, that, these, those, much many, my, you, ours, few, less, several, all, both, etc.)

 

 

 

 
ADVERB (IN AN ADVERBIAL PHRASE)

In these sentences, whichever and whatever are more like adverbs in phrases (telling when, where, why or what for). Note that the noun is the object of a prepositional phrase.

Whatever the occasion, she bakes.  What for?

Whatever the reason, she went out.  Why?

Whichever the day, just let us know.   When?

REPHRASED

A similar meaning may be expressed with prepositional phrase using for.

She bakes for some/any occasion

She went out for some/any reason.  

Just let us know on which day / in which month / at which time 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commonly Confused Words

Homonyms, Expressions & Slang

 

 

 

Whoever vs. Who ever!

WH–QUESTIONS + EVER

In these questions, ever is used to express surprise or unexpected occurrence. The words in these expressions resemble the wh-ever words, but have different meanings. 

Who ever is that? 
 Who is that, I wonder. (surprise, curiosity)

What ever have you done?
What did you do? It's not what I expected. (dissatisfaction, anger)

How ever did you do that? 
How did you do that?  I am amazed.   (surprise, admiration)

Why ever didn't you tell me you were unhappy?  
Why didn't you tell me? It was expected of you.    (surprise, disappointment) 

WH–EVER  QUESTIONS

The Wh-ever words below introduce modifying clauses and express any or no matter ... that

Whoever that is, will you tell them to come back later?  (no matter who)

Whatever you have done, we will be excited to see.  (no matter what)

However you choose to do it is all right with us.  (any manner that)

 

 

 

 

 

However vs. However 

HOWEVER (ADV)

However is sometimes used with the meaning of no matter how; any manner.   (adverb)

However she dresses, she always looks stylish.  (no matter how)

We can get this done however you want to do it.  (no matter how / in any manner)

HOWEVER (CONJ)

However is also used with the meaning of but. (conjunction for contrast)

She wanted to get dressed up. However, the event was casual.

We can get this done; however, he doesn't want to.

 

 

 

 

Whatever - Slang

FINISHED TALKING ABOUT IT

Whatever is often used in an argument to concede (admit but not admit) so that the argument will be over. The speaker avoids an argument, "agree to disagree".

"You put the DVD into the wrong drive."
"Oh, whatever. "  (WEV in text messaging)

 

FINISHED LISTENING

Whatever is used to end / leave / escape a conversation that is becoming too long with unnecessary or personally irrelevant information. "Enough"

"Look, if you don't put the soap in first and then add the clothes, you'll get bleach spots on your colored clothing and you don't want that, do you?"
"Whatever..."  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

babyfood
 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

Whatever is the reason, my baby doesn't want to eat.

 

 

You told my secret to whoever ('Whoever' is awkward standing alone as an object pronoun.)

 

SOLUTION

For whatever reason, my baby doesn't want to eat. (for some / any reason that)

Whatever the reason (is), she doesn't want to eat. (no matter what the reason that)

She doesn't want to eat for some reason(an unknown reason)

She doesn't want to eat for any reason(no reason exists) 

You told my secret to anyone / everyone. (Rephrase using an indefinite pronoun.)

You told my secret to whoever you met(Rephrase using a modifying clause.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Gossip

gossip
 

 

Complete the clause with wh-ever.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or the "check 1-12" button at the bottom.

 

1.
Some people gossip about anyone they want.



 gossip (N) –talking about personal or private affairs of others

2.
They think they can talk about private matters anytime they please.


3.
They don't think that idle talk affects other people's lives for some reason.


4.
They take away some small amount of privacy for any person they discuss.


5.
They are gossiping about movie stars anytime I see them.

6.
I meet people who are curious no matter where I go.


7.
We feel like old friends no matter how long it has been since we last saw each other.


8.
Let me know how to get to any place you all choose to meet.


9.
He calls me with the latest news from the hospital no matter the time of day.

10.
I get worried any time he calls.


11.
Be sure that you truly like one of these names you will choose for you baby.


12.
Be sure that you truly like any name you choose for you baby.