English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am going to present a funny gift to my friend. What is the best sentence which will describe the item? Is the following sentence correct?

Be prepared to get a gift which you never had before.

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I would use this:

Be prepared to get a gift that you won't expect.

To stir up the most turmoil within the recipient, that would work. Or something like this:

Get ready for a once-in-a-lifetime gift!

It's really up to you. The sentence that you gave doesn't convey the meaning that you're trying to get across (be ready for anything) as well as the above examples, since it simply means be ready for a gift that you haven't had before, which could be something like a piece of chalk, which is not necessarily funny, but simply something they have never received. My examples do not convey the exact meaning (be ready for a funny gift) because I think that you'd be giving away too much information. A gift should be a surprise!

share|improve this answer
+1 for once-in-a-lifetime – Rauf Dec 26 '11 at 5:40
@MuhammedRaufK Thanks for the accept! – user11550 Dec 26 '11 at 5:48

If you want to keep the same sentence, you just need to change the form of have to make it read Be prepared to get a gift which you’ve never had before. But a native speaker of British English would be more likely to say something like I’ve got a surprise for you. It’s a present which I bet you’ve never beeen given before.

share|improve this answer
+1, but what this page needs is a concise explanation of the difference between "you had" and "you have had" - one which I am unable to give. – slim Dec 22 '11 at 11:56
@slim: ‘You had’ is past tense, which locates an event at a specific time in the past. ‘You have had’ is a perfect construction and relates a past event to the time of speaking. – Barrie England Dec 22 '11 at 12:01
Neat. I suggest bunging that in the answer, along with what adding "never" means. "You never had" isn't wrong; it's just different to "You've never had". – slim Dec 22 '11 at 12:07

A never-before gift. The collocation 'never before' is quite popular and widely used for dramatic effect.

share|improve this answer

Be prepared to receive a gift, the likes of which you’ve never had before!

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.