1

1 [usually with negative or in questions] At any time.
‘nothing ever seemed to ruffle her’
‘don't you ever regret giving up all that money?’

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

Can we use ever in this sense in wh-questions?

1

1 [usually with negative or in questions] At any time.

‘nothing ever seemed to ruffle her’

‘don't you ever regret giving up all that money?’

Yes, you can use this in wh-questions.

Examples of this sense of "ever" in wh-questions could include:

When has anything ever ruffled her?

Why didn't you ever regret giving up all that money?

Who has ever visited the Moon?

Note: If we put "ever" directly after the wh word then the sense changes and "ever" loses its meaning, becoming simply an intensifier: "Why ever didn't you reget giving up all that money?" or "How ever can he live with himself?". Some writers distinguish between "What ever do you mean?" (emphatic equivalent of "what") and "Whatever you want, I can get it" ("whatever" as a single-word pronoun, determiner or adverb). Others use "whatever" for both.

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  • "If we put 'ever' directly after the wh word then the sense changes and 'ever' loses its meaning, becoming simply an intensifier." Thanks for the examples, but they still seem to be emphatic, regardless of where you put 'ever': "How did we ever manage without this mass collective memory of objects?" (from the same source) "Why would anyone ever want to hurt her?" Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. – Mori Oct 29 '17 at 5:13
  • I agree that sometimes that is the case - certainly that is true of your examples. In my examples, I read "ever" as retaining something of its original sense. What if a previous sentence was added to make the "ever" sense clearer? "You've told us that you never regretted it. Why didn't you ever regret it?" Or what if we added following context: "When has anything ever ruffled her? Ever? When, even in her younger years?" – rjpond Oct 29 '17 at 12:01
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Yes, I see nothing wrong with those examples above. They sound fine and coherent in my mind.

P.S. Okay, I had failed to read it completely. Yes, you can, but they are normally combined into one word:

whatever, wherever, whichever, whenever, whoever, whomever whosever, whyever (usually "why ever"), whosoever, whomsoever, whosesoever, whatsoever, wheresoever, whensoever, whichsoever, whatsoever, whysoever ("whysoever" is extremely rare).

Some examples are:

Whatever do you mean?

Whosoever opened this?

Whyever would he do this? (Why would he ever do this?)

Wherever did you go?

When did you ever do your work?

Usually questions are created using wh-adverb + so + ever as one word and is a little formal, histrionic, or archaic regarding how it sounds and comes off to native speakers. That's not a hard-line rule, however.

Does that help you understand? Is that what you wanted to know?

P.S. I should have read the question better, but it's 1:30AM here. Okay, so you want it to mean "at any time", right?

"Why would he ever listen to you?"

Is that what you were asking about? The "ever" in that example means "at any time".

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  • Thanks for the answer, but would you mind reading my question again? – Mori Oct 28 '17 at 4:47
  • Your "whosoever" example doesn't look right to me. – The Photon Oct 28 '17 at 5:19
  • It's just archaic. – Nick Oct 28 '17 at 5:19
  • You're talking about a different sense of ever: "4 Used for emphasis in questions expressing astonishment or outrage" Oxford Dictionaries. – Mori Oct 28 '17 at 5:20
  • Yes, I am. What are you asking for? – Nick Oct 28 '17 at 5:21

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