What vs. Whatever

What and whatever have similar meanings with each other. Let's not forget the delicate difference. Follow the article to study the similarities and differences.

"What" vs. "Whatever" in the English Grammar

What Are Their Main Differences?

One of the key differences between 'what' and 'whatever', is that 'what' is used as an interrogative pronoun to ask questions, while 'whatever' is not considered as an interrogative pronoun. However, they differ in their meanings too, which is discussed in this article. So, let us start.


How They Differ in Their Meanings

  • 'what':

means all specific things or this specific thing and sometimes it is used in exclamations or used to indicate surprises.

  • 'Whatever':

means anything, no matter what.

Whatever makes you happy is good for your mental health.

Whatever is used in this pasta made it taste like heaven.

What she did to me is unforgiveable.

What you do is best for everyone. I trust you.

How to Use 'Whatever' and 'What' as Determiners?

  • 'What':

can be used as a determiner followed by a noun in both indicative and interrogative sentences.

  • 'Whatever':

is used only in indicative sentences as a determiner. Note these examples to be clearly informed.

Whatever the reason was he left without any goodbyes.

Whatever the weather will be, we are going to have her party at the roof garden.

What color is your dress for your brother's wedding?

What an awful day it is!


'What' and 'Whatever' Functions in Idioms

Besides their grammatical functions as determiners and pronouns, There is another similarity between these terms. 'What' and 'whatever' can be used to make an idiom with the same meaning. For example, the idiom: "what/whatever sb says goes" is used to say that everybody takes sb's order. Let us have these examples under consideration to avoid confusion.

What the chef says goes. He is really strict. (Or Whatever the chef says goes. He is really strict.)

What Sam says goes. He is the captain of this team. (Or Whatever Sam says goes. He is the captain of this team.)


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