Whatever does become of the gentlemen,

I need help, folks!

Is this phrase below correct (whatever does become…)?

“In short, whatever does become of the gentlemen, they are not at Cranford.”

The whole context goes like this:

In the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons; all theholders of houses, above a certain rent, are women. if a married couple come to settle in the town, somehow the gentleman disappears; he is either fairly frightened to death by being the only man in the Crabford evening parties, or he is accounted for by being with his regiment, his ship, or closely engaged in business all the week in the great neighbouring commercial town of Drumble, distant only twenty miles on a railroad. In short, whatever does become of the gentlemen, they are not at Cranford.


It means “whatever happens to the gentlemen” in simple English, or in a more pure sense, it is functionally equivalent to “whatever becomes of the gentlemen” which agains signifies “whatever may happen to them.” You could add a “do”/“does” in front of verbs, the way you do in questions, but it isn’t commonplace. “Whatever does happen to him, I wish him the best!” The specific construction “What does become” sounds Elizabethan to me (well, in that time, they were using “dost” in place of “do”). I joke - it isn’t quite as old as Shakespeare. But your text IS an older text, right? Like 1800s British English? I will say “Whatever does become” is grammatically correct, but it belongs to the stories where they discuss gentlemen and regiments, evening parties, and holders of the houses like they are everyday occurances. Nowadays, we’d likely only use that construction, for example: “the current does run strong” about a river, in poetry to add a bit of timelessness into the statement. I’m imagining a Sci-Fi television program with “Whatever does become of society, only the meek shall survive.” (In a voiceover, with people running away in the woods for survival; then the title credits begin rolling.) There’s a reason for going with the old grammatical construction - it leaves a sense of mystery, and there’s a lack of time, place, finality of outcome, which is good for a dystopia.

“But your text IS an older text, right? Like 1800s British English?”

Yes it’is, @tracee555.

It’s a book written by Elizabeth Gaskell, born in London in 1810, and died in 1865. I bought the book for several years ago. It was very cheap but when I tried to read I found it too heavy for me. Now I want to try it again and see if I’ve made some progress back then.

Thank you for your clarification! BTW, I always appreciate your texts here on the Forum.

This phrasing “whatever does become of…” seems to me to impart a sense of the perfective aspect, as found with Russian verbs, e.g. (I see you have a small amount Russian here.)

Thank you, @khardy! And, I’ve to check those Russian verbs as well, but I’m afraid that it’ll take ages - right now I’ve 0,5% of your known words!