whoever

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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.
  • 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 as much more acceptable than the converse hypercorrection in which whom is misused in place of who, as in *the savage whom spoke to me.

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