In our country, we learned that present perfect means past experience at school. But I saw native speaker say that right meaning of present perfect is unspecified past. When we saw the sentence like:

I have ever made this.

how can I accept the meaning of the sentence?
'I have the experience of making this.' or 'I made this but I don't know the exact time'?

  • 2
    I have ever made this is not a grammatically correct sentence. May 12, 2017 at 5:55
  • What is the reason why this sentence is not correct sentence grammatically?
    – 박용현
    May 12, 2017 at 6:24
  • I have no idea. But you hear native speakers say something; you cannot see it. May 12, 2017 at 6:55
  • If so, how about ' I have made this'?
    – 박용현
    May 12, 2017 at 7:15
  • 1
    Why do you think that the two definitions are mutually exclusive? Why couldn't the present perfect be both for past experiences and the unspecified past? For example, using your own example, "I have made this before," you would be correct in saying that the speaker both has "had the experience of making this" and is speaking about the "unspecified past." (Cont'd.) May 12, 2017 at 7:42

1 Answer 1


The sentence is ungrammatical because of the presence of "ever". "Ever" belongs to a group of words called "negative polarity items".

The unusual thing about negative polarity items is that they can only appear when there is some suggestion of doubt or unreality in the sentence.

Here are a few of the situations where you can use "ever":

  1. In an explicitly negative sentence. Note that "ever" becomes "never" when negated.

I have never done that.

  1. In an implicitly negative sentence, such as one expressing doubt or infrequency.

I hardly ever do that.

I doubt that I've ever done that.

  1. In a question (because the answer could be "no"!).

Have you ever done that?

  1. In a hypothetical situation.

If you ever do this, let me know.

There are a couple of other situations. See this answer on English Language & Usage for more detail.

Another negative polarity item that often causes difficulty is "any".

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .