We are currently discussingq with my colleagues what the correct grammar would be in this context: you have just finished a meal and want to say it was/has been the best meal you ever had. What tenses would be used here?

This was the best meal I have ever had. - some say past simple should not be mixed present perfect like this and would choose past perfect.

2 Answers 2


If the meal is finished, then was, not has been. If it is continuing, then has been (so far), not was.

(However, what constitutes the "meal" experience/event? Is it over as soon as the last bite of food is swallowed? Is it over after everyone has left the table?)

These are all correct:

  • That was the best apple I have ever eaten. (you've finished it)
  • That was the best apple I ever ate. (you finished it)

  • This is the best party I have ever attended. (you're still partying)

  • This is the best apple I have ever eaten. (you have not finished it)
  • Thank you. What is the diference between I ever ate and I have ever eaten?
    – Holteeer
    Apr 22, 2014 at 21:24
  • Sorry, I don't have an explanation. Some will perhaps even say that "best I ever ate" is incorrect; dunno.
    – Drew
    Apr 22, 2014 at 21:34

I believe it comes down to the difference between American and British English. Brits are said to use more present-perfect forms of the verbs, and Americans, simply the past form. I'd like to think a Brit would say, it has been the best meal I've ever had, as opposed to it was the best meal I've ever had even though the meal is finished. I've heard on countless occasions in the game of cricket, commentators saying, "the batsman played a silly shot and now he has gone" instead of, "now he is gone", that's assuming the player has left the field of play. So it's down to preference really. Both forms are acceptable.

  • But do you hear "the batsman has played a silly shot"? Mar 3, 2015 at 18:50
  • 1
    Actually yes, I do hear those sort of sentences too. Let's assume a batsman plays an inventive shot, most likely a scoop shot over the wicket-keeper's head and earns a four for it, in such a case, it wouldn't be uncommon to hear a commentator say, he has played a cheeky/inventive/improvised shot etc. Mar 4, 2015 at 9:16

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