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I am having a hard time deciding which tense is perfect with ever. The following are some examples.

1- It is the best goal I have ever seen.

2- It is the best goal I ever saw.

I usually use 'ever' with the present perfect tense. But there are quite a large number of sentences using 'ever' with simple past tense. Is it a difference between British english and American english?

  • Either is fine. I personally would use present perfect most of the time, but the three versions cluster fairly close together. – Robusto Oct 14 '17 at 4:31
  • Thank Robusto. Can I replace "had ever seen" with "ever saw" in the following context? "It was the most beautiful little cotton dress I had ever seen/ever saw. – subhajit dalal Oct 14 '17 at 4:53
  • My ear has no problem with either. – Robusto Oct 14 '17 at 12:53
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You can use either, although there are implications:

It is the best goal I have ever seen.

This implies that so far, you have not seen better, and you leave open the possibility that you might see better in the future.

It is the best goal I ever saw.

You imply that so far, you have not seen better, and you believe you will not see better.

Bear in mind, also, that you would tend to use these in the immediate aftermath of the goal; if it happened some time in the more distant past, it would be more correct to say

It was the best goal I ever saw/have ever seen.

  • I agree with this, but I also think there's an AmE tendency to use "ever saw" more than BrE speakers would. For example, I think a police officer speaking standard BrE would only describe a crime as the "worst I ever investigated" if he had retired, and an (ex-)football fan speaking standard BrE would only describe a goal as the "best I ever saw" if he'd ceased to watch football or if he'd gone blind. Otherwise the preference for the perfect would be pretty strong. – rjpond Oct 14 '17 at 9:44
  • @rjpond I speak Canadian English, which is about 3/4 AmE and 1/4 BrE :) and I rarely would use "ever saw", but I certainly run into it often enough - perhaps because of its commonality in AmE. – Jim MacKenzie Oct 14 '17 at 16:28

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