Here is a quote from another Stack Exchange question:

How was a vessel ever constructed that actually flew through Earth's atmosphere without burning up, and then was able to travel around once it reached space without just freezing up?


What is the purpose of ever here?

2 Answers 2


It's an intensifier. From NOAD:

intensifier (noun) Grammar an adverb used to give force or emphasis, for example, really in my feet are really cold.

which goes along with this definition of ever, found in the same dictionary:

ever (adverb) used for emphasis in questions and other remarks, expressing astonishment or outrage: don't you ever forget it!

In this case, I think the intensifier is intended to convey a feeling of skepticism or disbelief.


It works as intensifier as J.R. says in his answer.

ever brings in the idea of 'all of time' and thus indirectly 'all possible circumstances' and so, in this skeptical question, it expresses the idea that the speaker believes something could never have been possible.

How was it possible under any set of circumstances....?

Compare How could you ever think that I could betray you?

Why would you think that I could betray you under any circumstances?

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