Let them see/watch, whoever wants to.

  • Isotta

    Senior Member
    English, Hodgepodge
    Well, not exactly. First it should be "let him," since you have "whoever," which is singular. Then there is the issue of "whoever" and "whomever" which I suppose would be debatable, as we found recently in another thread.

    But what would come out of a native Anglophone mouth would be something like:
    1. Whoever wants to see/watch can/may see/watch--makes sense if you consider that it's a command. Think of a mother talking to the babysitter, "Whoever wants to watch a movie may watch it as long as it's 'PG.'" Though she would more likely say, "If any of them [the children] want to watch a movie, it's fine, but just make sure it's rated 'G' or 'PG.'"
    2. Let who(m)ever wants to see/watch see/watch--sounds pretty bad, but passable if spoken with intonation and a pause after the first "see/watch."
    3. Let him see/watch that wants to--sounds a bit literary?

    Context would be helpful, for it's not the most natural thing to say. I am interested to see other responses.



    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    "Whoever wants to" is idiomatic in the singular, but it can have a plural antecedent, in any of the 3 persons. "Let em watch-- whoever wants to" doesn't hurt my ear one bit, though as usual my predeliction is for the spoken and the colloquial, and Isotta's comments are well taken if you're trying to write, even in a relatively informal register.

    The way you have the phrase tagged onto the end of a sentence is good enough stylistically-- it's an "ending paranthetical" phrase. The rhetorical effect is one of afterthought, clarification, emphasis, or a balancing or offsetting comment against whatever was said in the first clause. This is one reason the strictly-grammatical question of antecedent is relaxed.

    "Hey, any of us can go on the later bus-- whoever wants to."
    "Why don't you include all of us in the no-down-payment option-- whoever wants to."

    Some of these phrases work better with a modifier, like "for whoever wants to," or "whoever wants to participate."
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