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1 'They have never had any money'

  • A: Does this mean that they had no money in the past and they still don't now? or

  • B: Does it mean that they had no money in the past but the they do now?

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2 'They never had any money'

  • Does this indicate that they didn't have any money in the past and they are likely to remain this way?
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    Firstly, these expressions are hyperboles. It's most unlikely that 'they' never had the odd couple of pounds. But they're totally idiomatic. 1: A (assuming the speaker is correct) // 2. This is unclear (but would doubtless be cleared up by context in most conversations: (i) 'They never had any money. Then their rich aunt in Utah died, and now they've got three houses and a yacht!' / (iia) 'They never had any money when they used to live over on the Jasmine Helen Estate. And I'd be surprised if they're any better off nowadays.' / (iib) 'They never had any money then. And they haven't now.' Apr 18, 2020 at 10:36
  • @ Edwin Ashworth Thanks for the useful information.
    – Mohamed kz
    Apr 19, 2020 at 9:39

1 Answer 1

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The present perfect tense is used to express something that happened in the past and is continuing to happen now.

So "They have never had any money" means that they never had any in the past and they still don't today. It doesn't express any evaluation or prediction of what they might have in the future.

The simple past is used to express something that happened or was true in the past, but does not offer any information about the present or the future. So "They never had any money" means simply that they never had any money in the past. They might still not have any, or they may have accumulated money recently. The sentence does not offer information about either of these possibilities.

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  • @label Archer Thanks for the explanation.But I'm still little bit confused.What sentence would you choose in the following context: 1-we have just signed a three-million deal ,no one has ever had such a deal. 2-we have just signed a three- million deal,No one ever had such a deal.
    – Mohamed kz
    Apr 18, 2020 at 18:41
  • @Mohammed kz, I would use #1, although it should be written as two separate sentences, because there are two subjects and two verbs. "We have just signed a three-million deal. No one has ever had such a deal." That said, #2 is not totally wrong. Strictly speaking, it's correct. It just sounds a bit off to the attentive ear. I believe the reason is that in both versions, there's an implied "else", as in #1: "We have just signed a $3 million deal. No one else has ever had such a deal." (and they still don't). Apr 18, 2020 at 19:32
  • Thank you for your patience .I got it now.
    – Mohamed kz
    Apr 19, 2020 at 9:40
  • Pease note that there are close-votes for the question; these will either be as 'lacking research and/or a more suitable fit on ELL' or 'covered on ELU before'. That's why I gave essentially this 'answer' in a 'comment' (I don't consider it right to close-vote and give an 'answer' at the same time). It's important to retain standards, and avoid bloat. Apr 19, 2020 at 12:00

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