Grammar – However, whatever, whichever, whenever, wherever, whoever

If we add –ever to wh-words like how, what, which, when, where and who, we change their meaning.




‘any way at all’ or ‘it doesn’t matter how’


‘anything at all’ or ‘it doesn’t matter what’


‘any one at all’ or ‘it doesn’t matter which’


‘any time at all’ or ‘it doesn’t matter when’


‘any place at all’ or ‘it doesn’t matter where’


‘any person at all’ or ‘it doesn’t matter who’

However you try to explain it, I still can’t understand it. (Any way at all that you try to explain it … /It doesn’t matter how you try …)

Please take whatever you want from the fridge if you feel hungry. (anything at all that you want)

Whatever you do, don’t lose this key.

Choose whichever time suits you best then write your name against that time on the list.

Call in whenever you like. I’m always at home. (at any time at all that you like)

Wherever you live, you have the right to a good postal service. (it doesn’t matter where you live)

Whoever you ask, you will get the same answer: no. (any person you ask/it doesn’t matter who you ask)

Emphasising questions

We can use wh-words with –ever to ask very emphatic questions. In speaking, we stress –ever:

However will you manage to live on such a small income? (stronger than How will you manage …?)

Charlie, whatever are you doing? (stronger than What are you doing?)

Whenever are you going to stop complaining? You’re getting on everyone’s nerves!

Being vague: whateverwheneverwhereverwhoever

We can use whatever, whenever, wherever and whoever alone to refer in a non-specific way to people and things:


Shall I send you all the dates and times?


YeswhateverThat would be useful. Thanks. (it doesn’t matter what you send)


What time shall I come?


Wheneverreally. (no specific time/it doesn’t matter)

If you talk to the manager or whoever, you’ll be able to find out what’s happening.(talk to the manager or a similar, unspecified person)

Sometimes people use whatever in a sarcastic or disrespectful way, usually saying it in an exaggerated way, to show they are not interested (for example, with exaggerated intonation):


You’d better start saving money if you want to go to university!



(“However, whatever, whichever, whenever, wherever, whoever” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press.)

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