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Which sentence is better to use in Modern English between two sentences having the same meaning. The sentences like

  1. Be he ever so skillful
  2. However skillful he may be.

I guess number 2 can be used in modern English. I think number 1 is also correct but rarely used only for some special purposes and its uses cannot be said to be modern.

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Neither example is a sentence, they could be an adverbial phrase at the start of a sentence.

The first is archaic, it only exists in a few old songs: "Be it ever so humble, / there's no place like home" The meaning of "Be it" is close to "Even though it is", and so slightly different from "However..."

The second is correct and normal.

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  • -These were incomplete sentences. I am sorry. user 37920
    – user37920
    Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 6:27
  • Would it be acceptable to say: "Whatever skillful he may be, /he will never match his teacher/"?
    – Eugene
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 6:42
  • @Eugene no, you use what/whatever for the type of something, and how/however for the quantity of something. Skilful is a quantity, so you say "How skilful is he?" and "However skilful he may be". You can have types of skills, so you say "What skills does he have?" and "Whatever skills he has".
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 6:58
  • @JavaLatte, thanks a lot.
    – Eugene
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 9:52
  • And (expanding your example): "Whatever skills he may have,..." - can also be apt?
    – Eugene
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 10:02

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