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Can someone explain me what is the role and meaning of "ever" in this sentence? "Before the present author ever became associated with ..."

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  • It's called an intensifier. Syntactically speaking it's emphasising the associated verb became associated. If you find it difficult to see what that actually means in this exact context, think of the emphasis as attaching to the word before instead. So it means Long before [I met so-and-so]. – FumbleFingers Nov 17 '20 at 12:39
  • Note that you'll often see ever (and even, near-synonymous in context) used in proximity to before like this. Even before I met her I liked her. More "poetically", Before ever I saw her face, I could imagine it. – FumbleFingers Nov 17 '20 at 12:46
  • Note that my first example above could "just about" be reversed to Before even I met her... (more naturally, Before I even met her...), but you can't reverse the first first two words of the second example like that (moving ever to be after the subject and closer to the verb, as Before I ever saw her face... is okay, though). – FumbleFingers Nov 17 '20 at 12:54
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It is simply used for emphasis. The meaning is the same.

The reason that it can be used for emphasis is that it is difficult to find a word to emphasise in the expression, " "Before the present author became associated with ...". It would be possible to emphasise "became" but "became" isn't a strong word. By introducing "ever", we can place a strong vocal emphasis on the word "ever".

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