How to correctly say that I have never heard she speaks English (I am not sure she knows English)?

I used a Present Perfect in the first part to say that the action takes place from the moment when I have heard her for the first time to the moment of speaking.

And then I am not sure which tense should I use to describe the second part of the sentence. Should I use Present Simple or the other one? I am thinking in this way: we can use Present Simple to say she was speaking English all her life, but what if she didn't with me (in this case we should only take that interval from our meeting to the present, right?)?

How do I plot the second part on the timeline? Timeline diagram

1 Answer 1


There are different ways that you can say someone can do something in a variety of tenses, for example:

  • He can drive.
  • He drives.
  • I didn't know he drove.
  • I didn't know he could drive.

Looking at your example, "I have never heard she speaks English" is not grammatically correct.

The most idiomatic ways to say this would be:

  • I didn't know she spoke English.
  • I never knew she spoke English.

But you could also say:

  • I wasn't aware that she could speak English.
  • Nobody told me she speaks English.

"I never knew" means that you did not know up until this point, so that would cover everything on your timeline from the past until the present. It is tacit in the explanation that you now know.

  • Yeah, but I was also wondering how to say exactly like this sentence I have never heard she speaks English. Is it grammarly correct?
    – entithat
    Sep 8, 2020 at 9:02
  • 2
    @entithat No, it isn't.
    – Astralbee
    Sep 8, 2020 at 9:19
  • 2
    @entithat It could be. It would be better as I have never heard that she speaks English, and has a similar meaning to Nobody has ever told me that she speaks English.
    – Peter
    Sep 8, 2020 at 9:56

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