With this sentence, I'm talking about an experience I never had:

I've never had a motorcycle.


I never had a motorcycle.

Two of them look correct, but I think there is a difference between them. Can you explain to me what the difference is between them if they are correct?

4 Answers 4


You're looking at the difference between the simple past tense:

I never owned a motorcycle.

and the present perfect tense:

I have never owned a motorcycle.

The simple past is explicitly limiting your statement to the past, implying quite clearly that "I never owned a motorcycle in the past". There is no indication of the current state of affairs. However, with the simple present tense you are including the present in your statement, saying in effect "in my lifetime, I have never owned a motorcycle."


"I've never had a motorcycle before" is more commonly used in present terms, like when you're talking to someone. "I never had a motorcycle" is used, most commonly, when you're talking about the past. Example:

"I never had a motorcycle when I was younger."


The difference between:

'I've never had a motorcycle'.


'I never had a motorcycle.'

has to do with the differences between spoken UK English and spoken US English as well as the difference between the simple past tense and the present perfect tense. According to this source, Americans use the present perfect tense less than speakers of British English and a British teacher might mark wrong some things that an American teacher would say are correct.

As an Australian where UK English is the standard, I have often noticed this difference in action myself when I've watched films and television programmes from the USA in the past, as I am more familiar with hearing and speaking UK English- given that I live in Australia. Such differences became more noticeable to me once I had begun teaching English to ESL students from China.

Some additional examples are given below from the same source:

US Did you do your homework yet?

Brit. Have you done your homework yet?

US I already ate.

Brit. I’ve already eaten.

In British English, ‘have got’ is often used for the possessive sense of ‘have’ and ‘have got to’ is informally used for ‘have to’. This is much less common in American English.

Brit. I’ve got two sisters.

US I have two sisters.

Brit. I’ve got to go now.

US I have to go now.

There are a number of other minor grammatical differences between US and UK English too.


I've never had a motorcycle.

Means you haven't had a motorcycle until now.

I never had a motorcycle.

This past simple tense suggests an event or action or state occurred entirely in the past. So the latter would mean that you have a motorcycle now.

  • so which perfect tense I can use for that I still don't have any experience about something? Feb 16, 2017 at 1:37
  • -1 for "or you've just recently had a motorcycle" and "that you have a motorcycle now".
    – TimR
    Feb 16, 2017 at 1:46
  • @TRomano 1. why isn't it possible? If I were given a motorcycle as a birthday present, I would say "I've never had this..". 2. That's why I said would. Feb 16, 2017 at 1:54
  • @winnervswinner Still don't have experience about something? Something like what? You mean sth like "I've never visited France"? Feb 16, 2017 at 1:55
  • 1
    The phrase I've never driven a motorcycle does not mean you are driving one now, although you could be about to drive one, and say those words, and they would be true, because the meaning of the words is "up to the present moment, I have not driven a motorcycle". A listener would infer from "I've never had a motorcycle before" that you have one now, and if you were to say "I've never had a motorcycle until now", then you would be saying that you do indeed have one now, and that it is your first.
    – TimR
    Feb 16, 2017 at 10:53

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