Being passive aggressive during an argument can only lead to worse fights. Using "nothing" and "whatever" will not get you anywhere.
Arguing is part and parcel of a relationship. You and your partner are unlikely to agree on everything all the time, so at some point, one of you is bound to be upset with the other. When it reaches that point, it is essential for having a healthy relationship that you fight fair, listen to each other, talk, disagree, and then resolve the issue. Leaving things unresolved will only let it simmer on a back burner until it erupts again. In the end, both are aware of the issue and how to correct the problems arising. One has probably apologized as well.
However, some people don't fight fair. They use words and phrases that are bait for the other partner to react to, or are a way to shut that conversation down entirely. The relationship can be happiest when the argument turns into heartfelt conversations that build intimacy. Instead, if you use fighting words it breeds more conflict into the relationship.
Here are five fighting words you should avoid when having an argument with your partner:
When one of you say things like "You're never on time" or "I always take out the trash", or "We always spend the weekends at your parents', never at mine" you're making sweeping generalizations. These statements are unlikely to be factual even if it feels that way to you. With these generalizations, you're communicating to your partner that they can't do things right and can't make you happy. You are also assuming this is their basic nature and not giving them the chance to improve on it.
They will feel resigned to it and not even try to change then. Try using "frequently" or "often" instead. Make the argument about the current issue rather than about everything they have done or will ever do.
When someone says "Nothing" to the question "What is wrong?" it's always something. This is a passive aggressive way to avoid the fight and being afraid of voicing your true opinions. Instead of telling your partner that you're angry or upset, you use body language to show it. But when a passive-aggressive person is asked about the problem the answer is "Nothing".
Next time your partner does that tell them that this response will lead to fights and that they should talk about what is irking them instead.
Using this word is a dismissal of the other person's feelings entirely. It may not be combative but it can be a start to another fight instead of seeking resolution. When "nothing" and "whatever" are used in the same argument by the same person, that person is really trying to close off all channels of communication. However, it is important to make that person realize then that would not be a way forward.
Tell that person then that your feelings have been hurt since they are trying to dismiss you away. If your partner doesn't offer an apology then, it is time to back off from the conversation until both of you are calmer and ready to talk.
Saying this would be an accusation and a blame-game. If you want to mutually solve the issue, stay away from calling them wrong. Try to look at their perspective instead. They may not be wrong but have a different way of looking at things but with good intentions. After all, everyone comes from different backgrounds and with varied expectations from a relationship. So, try to see where they are coming from before looking for faults alone.
When you tell your partner to "calm down" in the middle of an argument, in which both of you have been having a heated exchange, it seems like pointing fingers at their behavior alone. In all probability, you too have been equally worked up.
In this instance, it is best for both of you to step away from the fight and take a break. If you're having a hard time seeing their source of anger, it is better to let them know about it. So that the conversation can proceed more peacefully rather than getting more loud and angry. That would not lead to any solution.