what ever

whatever, what ever
1. Whatever is written as one word when it is an indefinite relative pronoun or adjective used in statements or commands:

• Whatever you're up to during the snowy season, a wonderful warm woolly makes the perfect winter wear —Hair Flair, 1992

• They make it harder to discuss differences openly, and to take a stand against racism whenever and in whatever form it arises —Times, 2007.

It is also used with concessive force equivalent to ‘regardless of what’

• (Whatever Ned Kelly was really like…he can scarcely have been like Mr Jagger —New Statesman, 1970)

and elliptically (with the continuation omitted) in informal uses such as:

• People want a kind of more adult conversation instead of just talking about a policy, be it tuition fees or foundation hospitals or whatever —Scotland on Sunday, 2003.

2. A comma is sometimes needed to clarify the meaning when a sentence begins with a whatever-clause, especially when the verb of the main clause can be understood either intransitively or as referring back to whatever: Whatever they have done, they are now leaving means ‘they are leaving (intransitive), regardless of what they have done’, whereas Whatever they have done they are now leaving means ‘they are leaving (transitive) whatever it is they have done’.
3. Whatever is also the correct form when used as an adverb to strengthen negative statements:

• There is no reason whatever not to seize this opportunity and practice with greater and greater exertion —Buddhist website, BrE 2000.

4. What ever is written as two words when ever is used as an intensifying word and the expression as a whole is equivalent to what on earth, usually in direct questions:

• ‘Pardon me asking, sir, but what ever happened to your pilot's licence?’ —J. Neale, 1993.

See ever 1.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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