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When vs. Whenever

Have you ever wondered how to use these words correctly? Have you ever thought, ďOh, either of these words will doĒ? Letís have a closer look.

Rule 1 - If an event is unique or its date or time is known, use when.

Examples:
Seven fifteen p.m. is when the game is scheduled to begin.
When I told you I wanted a vacation, I meant a cabana by the beach, not a ticket to the Super Bowl!
She loved to play baseball with the neighborhood kids when she was a youngster.


Rule 2 - Whenever is best used for repeated events or events whose date or time is uncertain. If you can substitute every time that or at whatever time that in your sentence, then whenever is preferred.

Examples:
Whenever I get in the shower, the phone rings.
Whenever you decide to begin eating healthier foods, Iíll help you come up with new recipes.


Note: When can often substitute for whenever but generally not the other way around. The exception is using whenever as an intensive form of when in questions: Whenever will that dog stop barking?

Examples:
Correct:
When I get in the shower, the phone rings. (When is acceptable but whenever is preferred for conveying the meaning every time that.)
When you decide to begin eating healthier foods, Iíll help you come up with new recipes. (When is acceptable but whenever is preferred for conveying the meaning at whatever time that.)
Whenever are you going to finish cleaning the garage? (intensive form in a question)

Incorrect:
Seven fifteen p.m. is whenever the game is scheduled to begin.

Due to the E-Newsletter's large readership, please submit your English usage questions through GrammarBook.com's "Grammar Blog."


Pop Quiz

1. Do you know when/whenever weíre supposed to arrive at your motherís house?
2. Let me know when/whenever youíll be arriving at the airport next week so I can pick you up.
3. When/Whenever the baby cries, she clenches her little fists.
4. I lived in a small town when/whenever I was seven years old.
5. The new policy will go into effect when/whenever the unemployment rate dips below ten percent.


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Wordplay

The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

A bicycle can't stand alone; it's two tired.


Pop Quiz Answers

1. Do you know when weíre supposed to arrive at your motherís house?
2. Let me know when youíll be arriving at the airport next week so I can pick you up.
3. Whenever the baby cries, she clenches her little fists. (When could also be used but whenever better conveys the meaning every time that the baby cries.)
4. I lived in a small town when I was seven years old.
5. The new policy will go into effect whenever the unemployment rate dips below ten percent. (When could also be used but whenever better conveys the meaning at the time that the unemployment rate dips.)


68 One-Minute English Usage Videos

English In A Snap: 68 One-Minute English Usage Videos FREE 

Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.


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