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What is the grammatical function of the word ever in this example?

Police found the country's biggest ever drugs plantation.

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"Ever" is an adverb, it gives to "biggest" the connotation of "absoluteness", meaning that it was the biggest that the police could find.

It can be related to place (the biggest in the region/place/state), or time (the biggest in police's history).

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Really? I can only understand "ever" hear to mean "in history". "the country's biggest drugs plantation" implies "current" to me, whereas "biggest ever" implies that it is the biggest across all time. –  Dominic Rodger Apr 2 '11 at 17:51
    
I don't really get your comment, but if I understood what you mean, actually that part was about "ever" in general, meaning it can have both a spatial and a temporal dimension. In this case I see it like: it was the biggest ever for that country. –  Alenanno Apr 2 '11 at 19:18
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"Ever" is an adverb of time. Like other such adverbs, it doesn't belong between the adjective and noun as in "biggest ever drugs plantation."

Broadcasters have started doing this for reasons of their own. They are always trying to sound as emphatic as possible. "Single biggest-ever", "huuuuuuge", "every single," "the actual game itself", etc. They are putting on airs.

Feel free to speak the way people have for centuries, and the way you did when young, and say "biggest plantation ever." "Ever" means "in history" or "in all time."

Would you say, "that was the biggest in history plantation" or "that was the biggest this year football game"? Of course not.

So there is no reason to make an exception to this rule for "ever," unless perhaps you are taking an exam in broadcast school and have to accept their bizarre grammar rules to graduate.

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Ever is used in comparisons for emphasis.

They felt better than ever before.
Our biggest ever range.

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