Subjuntivo + relative pronoun or adverb + subjuntivo = whatever/wherever/whenever/whoever

We often use the subjunctive when we want to say whatever, wherever, whenever and whoever. A common structure for this repeats the same verb in the subjunctive, around a relative pronoun or adverb. Let's take a closer look.

Whatever
subjunctive + lo que + subjunctive

Let's see some examples:

Tendrás que aceptar la verdad, sea lo que sea.You'll have to accept the truth, whatever that might be.

Te pongas lo que te pongas, siempre estás guapísima.No matter what you wear (whatever it is), you always look very pretty.

No le hagas caso a Ramiro, diga lo que diga.Don't pay any attention to Ramiro, no matter what he says.

Pasara lo que pasara en esa fiesta, prefiero no enterarme de nada.Whatever it is that happened at that party, I prefer not to know.

For whatever, (and whichever if we are more specific) we can also use:

subjunctive + cual/cuales + subjunctive

Diré que sí a su propuesta, sean cuales sean sus condiciones.I'll accept his proposal, whatever conditions he sets.

Ahí tienes dos corbatas; escojas cual escojas, te quedará bien con la camisa azul.There you have two ties; whichever it is you choose, it'll go well with the blue shirt.

If we are referring to something in particular, we can also use el que, la que, los que, las que, with the same meaning as cual but it has a less formal register:

Escojas la que escojas, te quedará bien.Whichever [tie] you choose, it'll go well.

Saldrás ganando compres el que compres.You'll benefit whichever you buy.

 

However
subjunctive + como + subjunctive

He dicho que no te voy a comprar la bici te pongas como te pongas.I said I'm not buying you the bike however much you insist/ no matter what.

Javier dijo que lo conseguiría fuera como fuera.Javier said he'd manage however he had to/no matter what.

 

Wherever
subjunctive + donde + subjunctive

Va a ser una fiesta de aniversario muy especial, lo celebremos donde lo celebremos.It's going to be a very special anniversary celebration, wherever we celebrate it.

Los impuestos hay que pagarlos, vivas donde vivas.Taxes must be paid, wherever you live/no matter where you live.

 
Whenever
subjunctive + cuando + subjunctive

Llámennos, lleguen cuando lleguen, no importa si es muy tarde.Call us, whenever you get there, even if it is very late.

Estaré pendiente de los acontecimientos y te lo comunicaré pase cuando pase.I'll keep an eye on the events and will tell you about it whenever it happens/no matter when it happens.

 
Whoever
subjunctive + quien + subjunctive

Te lo haya dicho quien te lo haya dicho, yo no haría caso a esos rumores.It doesn't matter who it was that told you, I wouldn't pay attention to those rumours.

Sea quien sea el que me ha mandado flores, debe ser un romántico.Whoever it is that sent me flowers, he must be a romantic.

 

Bear in mind that in these cases the relative pronouns/adverbs do not have a written accent:

  • sea donde sea 
  • sea dónde sea

  • venga quien venga
  • venga quién venga

Different tenses in the subjunctive can be used, depending on whether the action takes place in the present/future or the past:

Pase lo que pase en la fiesta, prefiero no enterarme de nada.Whatever happens/is happening at the party, I prefer not to know.

Here the speaker is referring to the present:

  • pase lo que pase [whatever is happening now]

or could also be referring to the future:

  • pase lo que pase [whatever happens in the future]
Pasara lo que pasara en esa fiesta, prefiero no enterarme de nada.Whatever it is that happened at that party, I prefer not to know.

Here the speaker is referring to the past:

  • pasara lo que pasara [whatever happened]

 

Note that what is between the two subjunctives may not always be a relative pronoun or an adverb; we can also find this type of structure with a noun:

Gobierne el partido que gobierne, siempre habrá corrupción.It doesn't matter which party is governing, there'll always be corruption.

Llámame sea la hora que sea.Call me no matter what time it is.

 

 

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Examples and resources

Javier dijo que lo conseguiría fuera como fuera.Javier said he'd manage however he had to/no matter what.
Pasara lo que pasara en esa fiesta, prefiero no enterarme de nada.Whatever it is that happened at that party, I prefer not to know.
Saldrás ganando compres el que compres.You'll benefit whichever you buy.
Ahí tienes dos corbatas; escojas cual escojas, te quedará bien con la camisa azul.There you have two ties; whichever it is you choose, it'll go well with the blue shirt.
He dicho que no te voy a comprar la bici te pongas como te pongas.I said I'm not buying you the bike however much you insist/ no matter what.
Va a ser una fiesta de aniversario muy especial, lo celebremos donde lo celebremos.It's going to be a very special anniversary celebration, wherever we celebrate it.
Diré que sí a su propuesta, sean cuales sean sus condiciones.I'll accept his proposal, whatever conditions he sets.
Llámame sea la hora que sea.Call me no matter what time it is.
Te pongas lo que te pongas, siempre estás guapísima.No matter what you wear (whatever it is), you always look very pretty.
Te lo haya dicho quien te lo haya dicho, yo no haría caso a esos rumores.It doesn't matter who it was that told you, I wouldn't pay attention to those rumours.
Pase lo que pase en la fiesta, prefiero no enterarme de nada.Whatever happens/is happening at the party, I prefer not to know.
Estaré pendiente de los acontecimientos y te lo comunicaré pase cuando pase.I'll keep an eye on the events and will tell you about it whenever it happens/no matter when it happens.
Gobierne el partido que gobierne, siempre habrá corrupción.It doesn't matter which party is governing, there'll always be corruption.
Tendrás que aceptar la verdad, sea lo que sea.You'll have to accept the truth, whatever that might be.
No le hagas caso a Ramiro, diga lo que diga.Don't pay any attention to Ramiro, no matter what he says.
Llámennos, lleguen cuando lleguen, no importa si es muy tarde.Call us, whenever you get there, even if it is very late.
Los impuestos hay que pagarlos, vivas donde vivas.Taxes must be paid, wherever you live/no matter where you live.
Sea quien sea el que me ha mandado flores, debe ser un romántico.Whoever it is that sent me flowers, he must be a romantic.
Escojas la que escojas, te quedará bien.Whichever [tie] you choose, it'll go well.
I'll be right with you...