past tense or present perfect at the time of speaking


My friend asked me about a person I never met in my life.

Should I say "I have never met him in my life." or "I never met him in my life."?

Amish Aa

Posted 2013-03-24T11:24:58.183

Reputation: 1 333

Welcome Amish, I'm not sure, but I think you are asking for "present tense" (I have met) vs. "past tense" (I met), not for "past participle". – None – 2013-03-24T11:29:11.110

2For this question, like for many past tense/present perfect questions, both alternatives are fine. – Peter Shor – 2013-03-24T11:55:43.127

1@Carlo_R. "I have met" is present perfect: subject + have/has + past tense. – kiamlaluno – 2013-03-24T12:20:14.943



In this case, the past and the present perfect express basically the same thing, so semantically it doesn't really matter which you use.

Other things being equal, answers very often reflect the form of the question. For instance:

SHE: Surely you met him last August?
YOU: No, I never met him in my life. ... your past tense matches hers

SHE: You've met him, haven't you?
YOU: No, I've never met him in my life. ... your present perfect matches hers

This is not by any means a rule; but it may help you in conversation.

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2013-03-24T11:24:58.183

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