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Whoever - Whatever - Whenever

 We can think about the W-ever words semantically as the 'W' word + the quantifier 'any'. The trick to understanding these terms is to realise that they apply to any single one of the referents, and at the same time refer to all of the referents.

  • Whatever - Any thing (This could also be every thing)
  • Whenever - Any time (This could also be 'every time')
  • Wherever - Any 'where' (Anywhere or everywhere).
  • Whoever - Anyone (Any person or every person, or sometimes used to refer to a person unknown to the speaker)
  • Whichever - Any 'which' (Choice between a group or set).
  • However - Any 'way' (In any manner or way, regardless of how).

Basically each one means:

"It does not matter what / when / where etc." OR

"An unknown thing / time / place etc."

Examples of Whatever

Whatever you do, pay attention to the road when you are driving.
(You can do anything as long as you pay attention to the road)

They say you can buy whatever you desire in Harrods, as long as you have the money.
(You can buy anything in Harrods, if you have enough money)

The student was so intelligent that whatever we taught, she understood.
(She understood everything that she was taught)

The criminal said he would do whatever he could in order to get out of jail.
(He would do everything or anything he could to get out of jail)

Examples of Whenever

Whenever the neighbours flush the toilet, water comes through our ceiling.
(Every time they flush the toilet it happens)

Whenever she calls, the landlord is busy.
(Every time she calls the landlord, he/she is busy)

Call me whenever you need something.
(Call me any time you need something)

Whenever he comes home, he acts like a hungry dog.
(Ever time he comes home, she is like that)

Whenever I go to sleep early, I have extraordinary dreams.
(Every time I go to sleep early, I have these dreams)

Examples of Wherever

Wherever you go in the world, remember where you came from and where you are going.
(Anywhere you go in the world, remember those things)

With a good education in English, wherever you go, you will have a good time.
(If you are taught well, you will have a good time anywhere)

Wherever we put the TV in the room, the reception is bad.
(Anywhere we put the TV the reception is bad)

You can put the present that she gave you wherever you want, just don't let her know if you put it in the trash.
(You can put that present anywhere)

Examples of Whoever

Whoever broke the vase, can you please replace it?
(Any specific person who broke the vase, please replace it)

Whoever goes to the shop, please don't steal anything.
(Any one or more of the people who will go to the shop, don't steal anything)

Whoever it was that knocked on the door last night must have been drunk, because they dropped twenty dollars as they ran away.
(The unknown person who knocked on the door dropped twenty dollars)

Whoever you just spoke to, she must have some special powers, because you look like you fell in love.
(The unknown person who you spoke with must have some special powers)

Examples of Whichever

You can drive whichever of the cars you want.
(You can choose to drive any of the cars)

Whichever dress I wear tonight, I'm worried that my butt will look fat. What do you think?
(Person is worried that the person's butt looks fat in any of the selected dresses)

Whichever road you take to Rome, you will need to drive carefully.
(There are a number of roads to take, and it is necessary to drive carefully on any one that you take)

Whichever pizza you ordered for her, it must have had some very delicious ingredients.
(The pizza that was ordered from those available had some special ingredients)

Examples of However

You can dress however you like for the party, it's not formal.
(You can dress the way that you want for the party)

However much she eats, she never puts on weight.
(It doesn't matter how much she eats, she never gets fat)

You can do it however you like, I don't really care as long as it gets done.
(you can do it any way that you want)

However rich they may be, it still isn't enough for them.
(It doesn't matter how rich they may be)

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