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Compound Relative Pronouns

The next time a teenager rolls their eyes at you, says “Whatever!” and stomps away, lure them back with your grammatical brilliance by saying, “Oh, honey! You just correctly used a compound relative pronoun !” So many people are confused by this concept, but it’s easy to use the proper word.


  • Go with those people, whichever they are headed.
  • Did you tell them whoever you are?


Whatever, whichever, wherever, whoever, and whomever are all compound relative pronouns. They join one clause to another, as in “Whatever candy you choose, I won’t be angry,” “Go with those people, wherever they are headed,” and “You may dance with whomever you wish.” These pronouns are inherently open and inviting of various options, which is, after all, what we all want in life.


As pronouns, these words serve subjects or objects: “Whoever [subject] left their dishes on the table needs to return and clean up.” “I will go with whomever [object].” They are compounds because they add –ever to what, who, and other such question words: “Whatever do you want at this hour?” They also act as conjunctions because they join phrases: “I will eat whatever you’re eating.”

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