Compound Relative Pronouns

The Compound Relative Pronouns are what, whoever, whosoever; whosever, whosesoever; whomever, whomsoever; whichever, whichsoever; whatever, whatsoever.

Antecedent

The Compound Relative Pronouns most often have no antecedent in the sentence. In a sense, they contain their own antecedent. What, whichever, and whatever (with the corresponding -soever forms) are equivalent to that which (plural, those which): that is, they are equivalent to the demonstrative pronoun that combined with the relative pronoun which, the demonstrative pronoun being the antecedent of the relative pronoun. Similarly, whoever is the equivalent of he who (plural, they who): the personal pronoun he is used as the antecedent of the relative pronoun who.

By way of example, the sentence, “Show me what you’re talking about,” may be expressed as “Show me that which you are talking about.” The sentence, “Eat whichever you want,” may become “Eat that which you want.” “Whoever wants the bike can have it” is equivalent to “He who wants the bike can have it.”

Note. In some sentences the antecedent is present. In the sentence, “Whoever turns the work in on time, he will receive credit,” he is the antecedent of whoever.

Case and Use

Whoever and whosoever are the only compound relative pronouns that have different forms for the different cases.

Nominativewhoeverwhosoever
Possessivewhoseverwhosesoever
Objectivewhomeverwhomsoever

What, whichever, whichsoever, whatever, and whatsoever have the same forms for the nominative and objective cases and have no possessive forms.

The case of a compound relative pronoun, like a simple relative pronoun, is determined by how it is used in its own clause.

He’ll complain to whoever will listen.

Make a good impression with whomever you meet.

Associate with whomever you wish.

I’ll give the homeless man money, whoever he is.

In the first sentence, whoever is in the nominative case because it is the subject of the verb will listen; it is not the object of the preposition to. The whole clause, whoever will listen, is the object of the preposition.

In the second sentence, whomever is in the objective case because it is the object of the verb meet. It is not the object of the preposition with.

In the third sentence, whomever is in the objective case because it is the object of the preposition with “understood,” not the preposition with expressed in the sentence: “Associate with whomever you wish (to associate with).”

In the last sentence, whoever is in the nominative case because it is a predicate pronoun. Note that the predicate pronoun precedes the subject instead of following the verb is.

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