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Whenever I hear this, it drives me nuts!

Posted by Maria Murnane | December 17, 2012

I’ve become a fan of both The Voice and The Biggest Loser. Yes, it is true. However, the grammar on both shows’ latest seasons has me pulling my hair out.


Christina A. has an amazing voice, but her word choice could use some work

Let’s begin with The Voice, in which the judges begin with their backs to the singing contestants and only turn around if they like what they hear. One of the judges last season repeatedly uttered a cringe-inducing variation of the following statement:

“Whenever I heard you sing, I just knew I had to turn my chair around.”


Whenever is used to indicate something that happened, or happens, with regularity over time. Following are some correct examples.

Past tense:

  • Whenever our parents took us to the zoo, my sister and I always headed straight for the giraffes.
  • Whenever my brother had a day off, he and I would try to catch a matinee.

Present tense:

  • Whenever I have free time, I squeeze in an afternoon nap.
  • Whenever she sings that song, I get chills.

*Note: “When” and “whenever” are interchangeable when the meaning is “at any time,” which includes the above and following examples:

  • Whenever he is hungry, he can be sort of mean.
  • When he is hungry, he can be sort of mean.

When is used as above but also for something that happens or happened just once. Following are some correct examples.

Past tense:

  • When I arrived that morning, I had no idea what to expect.
  • When I heard you sing, I just knew I had to turn my chair around.

Present tense:

  • When I see him, I will give him your message.
  • When we’re done playing soccer, let’s go for a beer.

In these examples, when and whenever are not interchangeable.

Let’s move on to The Biggest Loser, where a contestant had come to terms with her grandmother’s getting voted off the show. She told the camera she was “okay with it whenever it happened.”

I wasn’t! You see why?


This blog post originally appeared on Reprinted with permission. © 2012 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.



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