I am hesitant whether the sentence "the best gift that I ever have", is appropriate for expressing that the gift that will be given to me in the future (might happen or might not) will be the best gift that I ever have.

To date, I haven't got the gift yet, but if in the future I receive that gift, I will consider it as the best gift ever.

So which one is the best to say it?

1.The best gift I have ever had.

2.The best gift I ever have.

3.The best gift I will ever have.

Second question : Is this sentence classified as conditional sentence? If so, what this thing is called in English conditional sentence? Personally speaking, I just know that "ever" is only used for present perfect tense in several contexts of second or third conditional construction or, generally speaking, in the common/normal sentence.

So, what category does it belong to when we intend to write "ever" for future tense?

I hope you understand my questions. :)

  • "the best gift that I ever have" is not a "sentence" - it's a noun phrase. Valid phrasings for which are the best gift I [have] ever had - with or without that auxiliary had, which has no effect on the meaning (it's effectively a stylistic choice whether to include it). It might help you to consider the same text using the past tense verb received instead of had (where that instance of the verb "to have" is not an "auxiliary" - it's a full-blown verb with the meaning obtained, got, acquired). And optional ever here simply adds "emphasis". Commented Oct 26, 2020 at 13:59
  • Thank you for your corrections. Does it mean that my following instance "the best gift I ever have" is grammatically incorrect and makes no sense at all for the readers? Or is it still acceptable?
    – Abita Yay
    Commented Oct 26, 2020 at 14:06
  • This will be the best gift ever. Commented Oct 26, 2020 at 14:14
  • If you may or may not get it - That would be the best gift I could ever have. Commented Oct 26, 2020 at 14:28
  • 1
    I can't see any problem with "If I get that Rolls, Royce, it will be the best gift I ever have". - The Best Meatballs You'll Ever Have (Recipes.com), Commented Oct 26, 2020 at 14:39

1 Answer 1


Firstly, note that the best gift [that] I [have] ever have isn't a "sentence" - it's a "noun phrase" (within which the "head noun" is gift). Also note that it's perfect okay to include or omit either/both the "relativiser" that and the "auxiliary verb" have, and this has no effect on the meaning (it's entirely a stylistic choice).

BUT the second instance of have isn't an auxiliary. It's a normal verb usage, with the meaning get, obtain, acquire, receive,... So our choice is between...

1: This is the best gift I ever get
2: This is the best gift I ever got
3: This is the best gift I will ever get

In all those examples, the optional word ever provides emphasis (drawing attention to the fact that I never get or got or will get any gift better than this on any occasions whatsoever).

In most contexts, Past Tense (best I ever had) is the correct choice (in which case you're not necessarily ruling out the possibility of getting an even better gift in the future). You're saying that at no time in the past did you ever have anything better.

But note that Present Tense (best I ever have) doesn't exactly refer to present = now = time of speaking. It's the "timeless" use of the verb form, implying "never at all" (in the Past, Present, OR Future). And that's probably not the intended meaning.

It's possible to be even more emphatic by using could instead of will for the "future" reference in #3 above...

4: This is the best gift I could ever get
(there never was and never could be a better gift)

...and it's possible, though a bit clunky, to use that form for the "Past up until Present" context...

5: This is the best gift I could ever have got
(no past or current gift is better, but feasibly there might be a better future gift)

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