1

My dictionaries and references define, and I've always thought of, one of the functions of the word whatever as a "relative determiner."

In a sentence like, "I will help you in whatever way is possible," inserting the relative pronoun "that" between "way" and "is", or replacing "whatever" with "the" - a pure, non-relative determiner - (I reckon) renders it ungrammatical:

*I will help you in whatever way that is possible.
*I will help you in the way is possible.

However, I do often encounter utterances like the first one above, such as:

My hope and intent is to contribute in whatever way that I can.
I wish to be of service to the local communities in whatever way that is possible.

where "that" is used, and thus "whatever" can be replaced by "the" without making the sentences ungrammatical (if they are grammatical to begin with):

My hope and intent is to contribute in the way that I can.
I wish to be of service to the local communities in the way that is possible.

Is this usage of "that" with "whatever" wrong, though colloquial?

17
  • Great question. How would you interpret: "My hope is to contribute in whatever/the way I can"? Sounds correct to my ear when you substitute "the" for "what," even without "that." I think the distinction is the presence of the subject (of the clause) I. Perhaps that one example is different from the others.
    – Nonnal
    Nov 19 '15 at 5:44
  • 1
    I will help you in whatever way that is possible. As an editor, I would never let that stand. I would change it to something like I will help you in any way possible. "That" has no place in there.
    – ralph.m
    Nov 19 '15 at 6:06
  • @Ricky Whats wrong with using that ? It can be ommitted, but using it is still correct english.
    – 123
    Nov 19 '15 at 8:48
  • @123: That would be true (no pun intended) if the OP were using "any" instead of "whatever." "Whatever way that is possible" is nonsense. "Do whatever that you like."
    – Ricky
    Nov 19 '15 at 8:52
  • @Ricky Those sentences can't be substituted with any instead though. I'll help in whatever way that i can sounds okay to because any can be subbed in.
    – 123
    Nov 19 '15 at 8:57
1

I prefer using 'in whatever way possible' rather than 'in whatever way that I can', so I looked it up. https://edtrust.org/the-equity-line/finding-success-in-whatever-way-possible/ Apparently New Zealand likes the expression.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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