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My friends and I are discussing about a grammar question that hasn't reached a conclusion. We were at a birthday party last night and we ate pizza there. Immediately after eating the pizza, one of my friends said "It was nice! I have never had pizza before." I told him that it should be "It was nice! I ** never had** pizza before. I think the past tense should have been used because by the time he spoke about not having pizza, he actually had it. But I could not counter why he was wrong. Could someone please tell me "have never had" or "never had" which one he should have used?

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    The present perfect "have never had" is appropriate. At the time of the utterance, your friend's eating/enjoyment of the pizza had current relevance - no doubt they were still savouring their first encounter with pizza, so to speak. By contrast, the past perfect "had never had" would locate the eating entirely in the past; they may have had pizza since. But that sentiment would hardly be appropriate here, so the present perfect is correct. – BillJ Nov 14 '17 at 11:06
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I would say both of them are correct, but the present-perfect one sounds more natural.

The present-perfect version basically says "We just had a good pizza – up until now, I've never had anything like this", while the past-perfect version says "We had a good pizza this evening – up until that pizza, I'd never had anything like it".

It's about point of view. Your friend views the moment of eating that pizza as very recent, hence he chose to use present perfect. You view that moment as occurring in the past, hence you chose to use past perfect. Both are OK, but I personally would use the present perfect tense.

Do note that in the future, where the moment of eating that pizza clearly belongs to the past, we must use the past perfect.

Also, in spoken English, have/had as helper verbs are (almost always) contracted to 've and 'd

  • I'm sure that this must be a duplicate, but I doubt that if I could find a previous incarnation it would have as clear and concise an answer as this. I've tidied your answer a bit. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 14 '17 at 11:29
  • @EdwinAshworth Hi, are both the tenses correct? Which one would you prefer? – user266865 Nov 14 '17 at 11:45
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    @user266865 'I had never had pizza before' is grammatical, but 'I have never had pizza before' is both grammatical and (as 'I've never had pizza before') what 99+% of native speakers would say in the actual example you give. The above answer and BillJ's comment are spot on; 'At the time of the utterance, your friend's eating/enjoyment of the pizza had current relevance' trumps 'by the time he spoke about not having pizza, he actually [had] had it' here. 'Rules' in English are often (perhaps usually) presented badly, inadequately, by instructors. And English often seems maddeningly illogical. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 14 '17 at 11:57
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your friend meant it like he never ever tasted pizza before and this is for the very first time he actually tasted a one and he likes it, so it should be "I've never eaten pizza before" or "this is (was) my very first pizza I've ever tasted"

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