See also: whoëver

English edit

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

From Middle English whoever; equivalent to who +‎ ever.

Pronunciation edit

Pronoun edit

whoever (nominative case, objective whomever, possessive whosever)

  1. (interrogative) Who ever: an emphatic form of who.
    Whoever thought up that stupid idea?
  2. (fused relative) Any person or persons that.
    Whoever breaks the law will be punished.
  3. (fused relative) The person that (no matter who).
    Whoever robbed that old lady ought to be locked up.
    I don't know what it is. Ask whoever put it there.
  4. Regardless of the person or persons that.
    Whoever stole the painting, the police will catch the thief in no time.
  5. (informal) Any person or persons.
    I don't care who gets it; give it to whoever.
  6. Misspelling of who ever other than in interrogative use.
    *He is the tallest man whoever lived. (incorrect usage)
    • 2014 July 13, Peter FitzSimons, “Ian Thorpe acknowledges he's gay, let's hope he's now happy as well”, in Sydney Morning Herald:
      When the gays can claim the toughest bastard whoever pulled on a football boot as one of their own, ...

Usage notes edit

  • Who is a subject pronoun. Whom is an object pronoun. To determine whether a particular sentence uses a subject or an object pronoun, rephrase it to use he/she/they or him/her/them instead of who, whom; if you use he, she or they, then you use the subject pronoun who; if you use him, her or them, then you use the object pronoun. The same rule applies to whoever/whosoever/whoso and whomever/whomsoever/whomso. In the case of who(m)(so)ever, which usually plays a role in two phrases at once, it is the role in the internal ("downstairs") clause that determines the case. For example, Sell the sofa to whoever offers the most money for it uses whoever because it is the subject of the verb offers; the fact that it is also the object of to is irrelevant.
  • Who can also be used as an object pronoun, especially in informal writing and speech (hence one hears not only whom are you waiting for? but also who are you waiting for?), and whom may be seen as (overly) formal; in some dialects and contexts, it is hardly used, even in the most formal settings. As an exception to this, fronted prepositional phrases almost always use whom, e.g. one usually says with whom did you go?, not *with who did you go?. However, dialects in which whom is rarely used usually avoid fronting prepositional phrases in the first place (for example, using who did you go with?).
  • The use of who as an object pronoun is proscribed by many authorities, but is frequent nonetheless. It is usually felt to be much more acceptable than the converse hypercorrection in which whom is misused in place of who, as in *the savage whom spoke to me.

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

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Anagrams edit