"As far as he was concerned it was the discovery of the millennium, and he was prepared to do whatever it took/takes to find investment."

Any knowledgeable takes on the matter?

3 Answers 3


In the most cases you use "whatever it took" because it is about the past, however, it can be "whatever it takes" in the special/particular context when the present tense is used to describe the law, laws of nature, the universal rule, the phenomenon which occurs constantly when the universe exists. So, the context also determines the meaning, and the grammar just helps to express it.


"Takes" is present tense and cannot be used here, but (as you note) "took" is awkward, so I'd rearrange the sentence to avoid the issue:

he was prepared to do whatever it would take to find investment.


It cannot be takes as it is already in the past. So: took.

  • will it be more embarrassing to delete the question or leave it?
    – joeav
    Mar 7, 2015 at 1:34
  • You don't need to delete it, it's bound to get out of focus pretty soon (if that's what you're worried about). Mar 7, 2015 at 1:41
  • 1
    @joeav: You really should have asked on English Language Learners, not here. In fact, Darius's answer is more correct, and should get all the upvotes from other ELU users. But the text of his answer probably isn't particularly easy for a learner to follow. Mar 7, 2015 at 1:56
  • @FumbleFingers you would have done better with a "yes". as an answer to my comment above. sounds like you have the website charter open in your lap or something
    – joeav
    Mar 7, 2015 at 2:02
  • @joeav Are you saying that you think FF's attempts to stick within the remit of the website are in some way toxic? Wouldn't this strike you as being the attitude of a scofflaw? Mar 10, 2015 at 9:36

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.