The late Sol Adler was the most distinguished practitioner of the English language who ever turned his attention to "polishing" in china.

I looked up the Oxford dictionary, and it says "ever" has four meanings:

  1. used in negative sentences, = never.
  2. used for emphasis when you are comparing things.
  3. all the time, always.
  4. used after when, why.

I don't think any of these meanings make sense in this sentence.

  • Can you edit to explain why you find the entries in the dictionary unhelpful here?
    – mdewey
    Jan 6, 2021 at 11:44

1 Answer 1


"Ever" here suggests that among those practitioners who spent some time thinking about "polishing" in China, Adler was the most distinguished - not just in this area but in the field in general.

Without it the "most" would make no sense. Without both "most" and "ever" the sentence would say simply that he was distinguished and that he thought about "polishing" in China.


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