2

[i]

As I matured and the protective cartilage at the ends of my bones wore away, as cartilage tends to do, the pain became more acute. And yet, instead of complaining, I tried to hide my problem. Perhaps I have always been more like Eve than I’ve ever admitted, for I distrusted the medical world immensely, and I found ways to compensate for my disability so I could avoid a diagnosis that would undoubtedly hasten my demise. (Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain)

[ii]

It is better than it has ever been. (CGEL, p144)

CGEL says, in [ii] “the comparison is between its quality now and its quality at any time within the time-span –– clearly the potential for it to be of such and such a quality still exists”. From this, I guessed the meaning of ever was at any time within the time-span. But after having consulted OALD, it seems like ever might just be an intensifier in comparative constructions, having lost the said meaning.

Which way should I understand ever in these constructions?

3

I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. The emphasis in OALD’s second meaning seems to derive from a direct extension of the primary “at any time” sense, though it ranges into the realm of the non-literal by exaggerating something in a way all involved know may not be a perfectly exact comparison between the current event and all times before.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.