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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.

4 Answers 4

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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's adopted to indicate a temporal dimension, since ever usually means at any time.

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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. Apr 2, 2011 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, 2011 at 19:18
  • I agree with Dominic Rodger. I see it only as a temporal indicator. Aug 8, 2015 at 21:34
  • @chaslyfromUK Fixed answer.
    – Alenanno
    Aug 9, 2015 at 9:08
  • @DominicRodger Fixed answer.
    – Alenanno
    Aug 9, 2015 at 9:09
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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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"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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People DO say "biggest ever". The "ever" is certainly giving a time reference and has nothing to do with space. Bizarrely, some BBC editors have taken to not using "ever" on the ridiculous grounds that because "ever" means "all time" we can't possibly know if it's the "biggest ever", "most ever", "longest ever" etc because time has not yet finished... there is more to come. That's daft. At the moment of writing, all time is all time up until that moment. Future time does not yet exist.

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  • Please reread the question: this does not answer it.
    – tchrist
    Jul 4, 2014 at 5:15
  • Perhaps you could edit this answer to answer the question, if you wish to differ from other answers. Otherwise it may be deleted.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 4, 2014 at 8:37

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