I experienced a feeling I have never had before. (Past Simple + Present Perfect)

This sentence seems very strange and fishy to me, gramatically. Please confirm my doubts or tell me I'm wrong.

  • Welcome to ELL, Confused! Very interesting question. Seems fishy to me too, but I'm also not sure. Jan 27, 2015 at 12:17

1 Answer 1


As you noticed,

I experienced a feeling I had never had before.

is more logical. If we change the second verb from "to have" to "to feel" it's clear to me that we must use past perfect and not present perfect.

I experienced a feeling I had never felt before.

It's more clear if we change the verb in the second clause from "to have" to another verb:

I saw a mountain I had never seen before.

(with a "have" there it sounds just ridiculous.) I think that, because the verb "to have" (to possess) is the same as the helping verb "to have" for the perfect, we sometimes get confused when forming a sentence where the verb is "had." That's why in the first sentence might be constructed with "have;" however, I think this is a speaker error (even 'descriptively') and that a native speaker would probably change it to "had" if they thought about it.

  • Can we say "I experienced a feeling I never had before"? Jan 27, 2015 at 13:20
  • 1
    I think so! Not sure anymore.
    – hunter
    Jan 27, 2015 at 13:25
  • 1
    @CopperKettle: When you "have a feeling" you have a hunch or a premonition.
    – TimR
    Jan 27, 2015 at 20:07
  • 1
    ... had never had before.
    – TimR
    Jan 27, 2015 at 20:08
  • @CowperKettle: You can, as that is the simple past. "I never had" = emphatic negation of "I had".
    – user21820
    Jan 25, 2022 at 17:24

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