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English as a Second Language/the use of Ever in Present Perfect


Hi Amy,

Thanks again for your previous help.

I have a question about the use of the word 'ever' in present perfect sentences.

If a student asks me "Have you been to Hong Kong?" would that be correct? and even if it is correct how should I teach them to use the word 'ever':

Have you ever been to Hong Kong?
Or even...
Have you ever been to Hong Kong before?

Why should we use 'ever' and/or 'before'?

I am sure they would ask me why I am correcting them if they just ask "Have you been to Hong Kong".

Best Regards,
John Spitaleri


not sure I understand your question here... are you questioning the use of adverbs like "ever", "never", "yet" etc with the Present Perfect?

"Have you been to Hong Kong?" is an incomplete sentence so that wouldn't be correct.

See more on the Present Perfect here:

The way I do this - I teach them the correct sentence structure that goes with this tense, and part of that is the proper use of unspecific expressions like: ever, never, once, many times, several times, before, so far, already, yet, etc.

I hope this helps.



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Amy Baker


I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.


I'm a certified ESL teacher with 12 years of experience teaching K-12 and adults.

BSc MEd TESL post grad program for k-12 TESL post grad program for adult ed

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