We can think about the W-ever words semantically as the ‘W’ word + the quantifier ‘any’. The trick to understanding these terms is to realize 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.”
1. Examples of whatever
- 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)
2. Examples of whenever
- 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)
3. Examples of wherever
- 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)
4. Examples of whoever
- Whoever broke the vase, can you please replace it?
- (Any specific person who broke the vase, please replace it)
- 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)
5. Examples of whichever
- You can drive whichever of the cars you want.
- (You can choose to drive any of the cars)
- 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)
6. 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)