• I have never treated her like that.

I know I can put more emphasis by saying

  • I never once treated her like that.

I am thinking of this sentence in perfect aspect. I am wondering what would be the idiomatic usage in the present perfect aspect. I mean, when would someone say this instead of the past simple variant?

I've never once treated her like that.

Is there any specific case for which we'd better to use the perfect aspect?

1 Answer 1


I would tend to use your third case when there is a continuing relationship with "her", so the occasions (or possibilities) of treating her in any particular way continue to the present (and beyond).

If the relationship no longer exists, I would be more likely to use the simple past.

But, as usual, the choice of perfect or non-perfect is about how the speaker is choosing to portray the temporal relationships, not about an objective difference; so I could use the simple past even if the relationship is continuing - perhaps conveying that I see occasions on which I might have treated her like that as being finished. I could even use the perfect when the relationship is no longer current, if I am seeing this as part of my own continuing behaviour up to the present.

  • Thank you for the answer!
    – Cardinal
    Commented May 22, 2020 at 21:38

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