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いつ、どう、どれ、どこ、だれ、なに、etc. are all question words.

However, いつでも、どうでも、どれでも、どこでも、だれでも、なんでも、etc, all mean 'Any ___'.

What's making this happen? Is it just a special exception that evolved over time, or is there some reason for this considerable shift in meaning?

I ask as while I'm still not 100% when it comes to the particles で、も、and でも, I still don't get what's going on here.

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    is a concept of indefinite and いつ何時 どこ何処 in Kanji. Using these as question words is a special case. Because あなた-でも-いい is a same usage of でも, those are not special exceptions, I think.
    – mmtootmm
    Jan 19, 2017 at 6:29

1 Answer 1

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I'm sure that someone can give a more specific etymological answer but も as a particle is appended to the て form of です, sort of like 何をしても, so it isn't two particles で and も. You're dealing with ~ても in this case.

Basically 何でも means "no matter what," which has the same functional meaning as "anything" in a lot sentences

中華なら何でもいい

(if it's Chinese food, no matter what it is, I'll eat it / anything is fine)

いつでも、no matter when <--> anytime

どうでも, no matter how <--> anyhow

You get the picture.

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  • You gave an ambiguous example sentence. 「中華街なら何でもいい。」 can just as easily mean "Any Chinatown will do."
    – user4032
    Jan 19, 2017 at 6:41
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    actually it isn't ambiguous. I meant to just write 中華 and not 中華街. so you're correct. but the core grammar wasn't the ambiguous part anyway
    – frei
    Jan 19, 2017 at 6:53

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