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Archive Language Point 127

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Whoever and whatever

Helen in a clothes shop holding a jumper
When we want to say that something or someone doesn't matter or isn't important we can use '-ever' at the end of certain words (whoever, wherever, whatever, however).

We can also use these words when we're talking about a particular person or thing but we don't know their name. When the shop assistant said 'Just get the receipt from whoever gave you the gift' he meant 'I don't know who gave you the gift but get the receipt from that person'.


We can use whoever to mean:

1. it doesn't matter who

Whoever you are, you still have to obey the rules.
I'm sure you'll be very happy whoever you marry. Just be sure you marry for love.
Whoever you are, you'll love this new film.

2. any person who

Whoever comes is welcome. The more the merrier!
We've got lots of food so whoever is hungry can eat here.
Whoever wants to come to the film should meet outside the cinema at 2 o'clock.

3. the person who

Could I speak to whoever is in charge of customer service please?
Whoever runs the fastest, wins the race.
Just get the receipt from whoever gave you the gift.

whatever / wherever / whenever / however

These words are used in a similar way to whoever:

There's no point trying to explain my side of the story. Whatever I say you won't believe me.

I don't mind if we go to the beach or a city on holiday. Wherever we go, we'll have fun.

Whenever she has a coffee, she lights up a cigarette.

She just can't stop eating chocolate however hard she tries.


Recently 'whatever' has also come to mean 'Whatever you say is unimportant to me. I don't care'. It's often used to stop conversations. It's used mostly by young people, is slang and is sometimes regarded as impolite.

Father: Are you going to tidy you room now?
Daughter: Whatever.

My mum said I had to study for your exams. And I was like 'whatever'.

Present tense

After these words which end in -ever, we use a present tense to talk about the future:

Whatever university you go to, you'll enjoy yourself, I'm sure.

Whichever dress you wear, you'll look gorgeous!

However hard he tries, he can never cook a decent meal.


piece of paper you get from a shop as a record that you bought something there

a refund
money that a shop gives you back if you return something you bought there previously

awful, not nice


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