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However it was, no one from the Poyser family went to church that afternoon except Hetty and the boys. Source

Is this "however" similar to "whyever"?

"How" can mean "why" as in "how is that?", so I thought this applied in this case too.

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Consider the following two sentences:

A) Who was it that broke the light bulb?
B) Whoever it was, the light bulb is broken.

The first sentence is asking who broke the light bulb. The second one is emphasizing that no matter who did it, the bulb is still broken.

Now, consider the following two sentences:

A) How was it that no one from the Poyser family went to church that afternoon except Hetty and the boys?
B) However it was, no one from the Poyser family went to church that afternoon except Hetty and the boys.

These sentences have the same pattern. The first one is asking how it's possible that only Hetty and the boys went to church that afternoon. The second one is emphasizing that no matter how it happened, it's still the case that only Hetty and the boys went to church.

You can, of course, say:

Why was it that no one from the Poyser family went to church that afternoon except Hetty and the boys?

Although you can say, "Whyever was it...", the phrase "Whyever it was..." is not idiomatic.

  • @birdman1234 In your sentence, "However it was..." essentially means "Whatever the reason..." – godel9 Jan 11 '14 at 15:35
  • @birdman1234 When you say, "I don't know why, but..." you're somewhat emphasizing the fact that you don't know why. If you say, "However it was..." you're emphasizing the fact that the reasons aren't important. – godel9 Jan 11 '14 at 15:41
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    @birdman1234 There's a lot of overlap between why and how, and it works in this instance; but it won't always work. For example, However he did it, he got it done won't work with I don't know why - it requires I don't know how. – StoneyB Jan 11 '14 at 15:41

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