‘Whatever’ vs ‘What Ever’

moonglow

Banned
English – America
I'll do whatever you want. (Obviously 'whatever' is one word here.)


What ever happened to the Unknown Comic?
(Is 'what ever' two words in this sentence? Isn't the two-word spelling equivalent to 'what in the world', as in 'What ever [What in the world] happened to the Unknown Comic?


Thanks.
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'll do whatever you want. (Obviously 'whatever' is one word here.)


    What ever happened to the Unknown Comic?
    (Is 'what ever' two words in this sentence? Isn't the two-word spelling equivalent to 'what in the world', as in 'What ever [What in the world] happened to the Unknown Comic?


    Thanks.
    I don't think a two-word version exists.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    The BNC contains a disturbingly high number of 'what ever's - a total of 66. I went through most of them only to discover that I would write 'whatever' everywhere. Maybe 'what ever' is old style? Makes sense - after all, years ago even to-day and to-morrow were hyphenated.
     

    moonglow

    Banned
    English – America
    The American Heritage Dictionary seems to allow both:

    Both whatever and what ever may be used in sentences such as Whatever (or What ever) made her say that? Critics have occasionally objected to the one-word form, but many respected writers have used it. The same is true of the forms whoever, whenever, wherever, and however. In adjectival uses, however, only the one-word form is used: Take whatever (not what ever) books you need.·When a clause beginning with whatever is the subject of a sentence, no comma should be used: Whatever you do is right. In most other cases, a comma is needed: Whatever you do, don't burn the toast.·When a noun followed by a restrictive clause is preceded by whichever or whatever, it is regarded as incorrect to introduce the clause with that in formal writing: whatever book that you want to look at; one should write instead Whatever book you want to look at will be sent to your office or Whichever book costs less (not that costs less) is fine with us.
     
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