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the first/tenth postage stamp I [ever got/have ever got] Options
robjen
Posted: Sunday, June 6, 2021 4:09:29 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/17/2015
Posts: 818
Neurons: 4,538
I have made up the sentences below.

(1a) This is the first postage stamp I ever got.

(1b) This is the first postage stamp I have ever got.

(2a) This is the tenth postage stamp I ever got.

(2b) This is the tenth postage stamp I have ever got.


My non-native English speaking friends say that the simple past works for "the first of anything" and the present perfect works for "anything after the first one". That means, (1a) and (2b) are correct.

I am not sure if my friends are correct.

Which verb form - ever got or have ever got - is correct? Thank you very much.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Sunday, June 6, 2021 5:00:03 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 35,277
Neurons: 241,541
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hi robjen.
I'm going to change the verb to "bought" only because I find it easier to think with that. ("Got" has too many slightly different meanings. Different tenses may be "more correct" in some meanings!)

(1a) This is the first postage stamp I ever bought.
(1b) This is the first postage stamp I have ever bought.
(2a) This is the tenth postage stamp I ever bought.
(2b) This is the tenth postage stamp I have ever bought.


In my opinion, they all sound OK. I would use them in different circumstances.

If I were a stamp-collector, and started buying stamps years ago (so now I have hundreds of stamps), I might show a friend:
"This is the first postage stamp I ever bought/This is the tenth postage stamp I ever bought."
It is a completed action in the past - I bought those stamps years ago.
The "buying" is a totally past action.

If I were in the post-office as a child buying a stamp, I could say:
"This is the first postage stamp I've ever bought/This is only the tenth stamp I've ever bought."
The "buying" is an action started a few seconds ago and either incomplete, or just completed.
The "buying" is an action which started in the past but directly affects the present situation (I'm standing there with a stamp in my hand).
robjen
Posted: Sunday, June 6, 2021 5:21:53 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/17/2015
Posts: 818
Neurons: 4,538
Thank you very much, Drag0nspeaker, for your excellent explanation. It has cleared up my confusion. I really appreciate your great help.
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