ESL grammar · Grammar

How to Use Whenever, Wherever, Whatever, Whoever, However, Whichever

By Jacqueline Schaalje

whatever

In this article I am going to show you how to use sentences with whenever, wherever, whatever, whoever, whichever and however.

You probably know that you can say: “Whatever,” when someone asks you a question.

For example:

Your friend asks you: “Would you like to go for a walk in the park this afternoon?”

And you say: “Whatever.”

This means: “I don’t care.” Or: It doesn’t matter what we do; it’s fine with me.

Whatever in a sentence

The use of whenever, however etc. that I want to show you is a bit more advanced. This is in combined sentences (when two sentences are put together). I’m not going to discuss now whether this is compound sentence and which is the dependent clause and things like that. In case you’re interested in such issues, check out this article which explains the grammatical issues.

Here I just want to show you some examples, and then give you opportunity to practise for yourself.

How to Use Whenever

Let’s start with one of the most common ones: whenever.

Whenever means: at any time.

Example:

John rides his bike whenever the weather is good.

This means that at any time the weather is good, John takes out his bike to go for a ride.

(If the weather is not good, John will not ride his bike.)

You can put whenever at the beginning of the sentence. It means the same:

Whenever the weather is good John rides his bike.

You could add a comma, but it’s not a mistake without the comma:

Whenever the weather is good, John rides his bike.

Example 2:

Whenever Josie feels like eating chocolate, she goes to the gym instead.

So this means that when there is a time when Josie wants to eat chocolate, she goes to the gym.

You could put the whenever in the middle in the sentence if you wish:

Josie goes to the gym whenever she feels like eating chocolate.

How to Use Wherever

Wherever means in any place in the world.

Example:

You can use our international Sim-card wherever you are in the world.

This means you can use the telephone card in any place. It doesn’t matter where you are.

Again, you may put the wherever in the beginning of the sentence if you so wish:

Wherever you are in the world you can use our international Sim-card.

Example 2:

Toshi takes a picture wherever he sees an interesting sculpture.

Or:

Wherever Toshi sees an interesting sculpture he takes a picture.

In this sentence you could also use whenever.

Whatever

Whatever means any thing, it doesn’t matter what exactly.

Have a look at this example:

Whatever you decide, it will be okay with me.

This means: any decision you make is all right with me.

Example 2:

Whatever you say now won’t make me forget our fight last night.

This mean: It doesn’t matter what this person will say.

How to Use Whichever

Whichever means which of the choices that are possible.

Example:

Bruce will wear his red or green sweater, whichever is clean.

There is a choice between the red or green sweater, so I need to use whichever here. Whichever means one of the two.

Example 2:

Whichever date you choose for the barbecue, let me know a few days in advance so I can plan it in my schedule.

Here I’m again choosing whichever, because there is a choice of dates (on this day, or that day, or the day after that).

The difference between whatever and whichever

You may ask what the difference is between whatever and whichever. With whichever there should be a choice between two things or more. With what there doesn’t have to be a choice between things.

Have a look at the following example. Can you decide which should be used: whichever or whatever?

We can go to the beach or to the swimming pool, ___________ you like.

Answer: whichever would be more correct here, as there is a choice of two things: the beach or the swimming pool.

And what about this example? What should you use: whichever or whatever?

I’m free this afternoon, so we can do ____________ you like.

Whatever would be the natural answer here, as there is no choice between things, and whatever means that it doesn’t matter/all the options are open.

A last example, just to make sure you got it.

Which is right here: whatever or whichever?

Dorothy does ____________ her mother tells her to do.

Answer: You’d have to use whatever here, as there is no indication here that Dorothy needs to choose between things. The meaning is that Dorothy will do anything her mother tells her.

How to Use Whoever

This means: any person, it doesn’t matter who.

Example:

Whoever has eaten the last piece of cake is welcome to bake a new one.

This means that it doesn’t matter which person ate the cake. It can be any person. But that person is the one we mean.

Example 2:

This warning is meant for whoever reads it.

What is Whomever?

By the way, there is also whomever, which you should use when the clause that follows is the object of the sentence. But this may be a little bit too much for one article. So I’ll leave that for another time to discuss with you, okay?

For now I’ll just give you an example of whomever:

I’ll chat with whomever is online.

(It doesn’t matter to whom I talk.)

How to Use However

Example:

Aunt Amelia can’t give up smoking her cigarettes, however much she tried.

This means that it’s not important how many times she tried to give up smoking.

Example 2:

However sick Jared feels, he will still go for his daily jogging.

It means that it doesn’t whether Jared feels a little sick or very sick.

Note: Don’t confuse this however with the however that means but!

How (Not) to Use Whyever

In case you were wondering, yes, there is a word whyever. But, it’s hardly ever used. Apparently, it was used more in the past. You can use whyever, though, in an exclamation: Whyever not? It means: Whatever reason is there that this can’t be done?

Example of use:

Suppose your friend tells you she doesn’t want any barbecuing in her garden. You see no reason why this should be impossible or not allowed, so you say: “Whyever not?”

whatever2

Go ahead and try the quiz!

Quiz

Choose between: whenever, wherever, whatever, whoever, whichever, however.

Do this quiz online here and check your answers. 

1 Elle told her daughter she could use her birthday money to buy ____________ she liked.

2 _____________ cake you choose to bake, all these recipes use apple sauce.

3 This plant will do well ___________ you place it: in the shade or in the sun.

4 Could you please go over my email ___________ you have time?

5 ___________ wrote this on the board, you obviously don’t know how to spell “retard.”

6 With this handy self-charging battery you can use your phone ___________ you go.

7 The lovely woman Prince Charming had danced with was___________ fitted the glass slipper.

8 I can tell my cat ___________ many times I want not to wake me at 6 in the morning, but he won’t listen.

9 The student was advised to attend vocational school, in ___________ city he preferred.

10 _____________ else you do with that scarf, don’t put it in the washing machine!

9 thoughts on “How to Use Whenever, Wherever, Whatever, Whoever, However, Whichever

  1. hi..dear teacher, I want your help.i need conditional clause,and active passive ,because i m very difficult that,not understand…pls,can i explain me…thanx… wishing you…shakyba.

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    1. Hi Shakyba
      There are many articles on this blog explaining about conditionals and active and passive. Just write these terms in the search box.
      If you need any help, let me know.
      Best,
      Jacqueline

      Like

  2. Dear Teacher,

    Nice to meet you. I’m really very happy to you for your English Tips. Day by day improve my English. I want your help. I want to talk with you. I want to your Skype ID with cell no. Wishing you.

    Sarwar Kethelic Jesus 

    Skype ID: sarwarkethelic.commercial1

    Cell No: +01715223549

    From:”English with a Smile” Date:Sat, 28 Mar, 2015 at 12:42 pm Subject:[New post] How to Use Whenever, Wherever, Whatever, Whoever, However, Whichever

    jschaalje posted: “By Jacqueline Schaalje In this article I am going to show you how to use sentences with whenever, wherever, whatever, whoever, whichever and however. You probably know that you can say: “Whatever,” when someone asks you a question. For exampl”

    Like

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