'ever caught' cannot be used in reply

Karen123456

Senior Member
Malaysia English
1. Did your cat ever catch a mouse?

Yes, it ever caught a mouse.

I have been taught that 'ever caught' cannot be used in the reply. Is it so?


Many thanks.
 
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  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Yes, that's true.

    Did your cat ever catch a mouse?
    Yes.


    More likely is:
    Has your cat ever caught a mouse?
    Yes.
    Yes, many.
    Yes, once.
    Yes, one.
     

    Karen123456

    Senior Member
    Malaysia English
    Many thanks, Copyright.

    Is there a reason for 'ever caught' being correct in a question but not in a reply? It really puzzles me.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Ever here means "(at) any time":

    Yes, it ever caught a mouse. = Yes, it caught a mouse (at) any time. :cross:
    Yes, it once caught three. [once = (at) one time] :tick:
    No, I don't believe it ever did. = No, I don't believe it did at any time. :tick:


     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I don't know that I can provide any explanation, but will just give you the long-form reply so you can see that "ever" is not required and shouldn't be used:

    Has your cat ever caught a mouse?
    Yes, he has caught a mouse (at some point in his life).
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Karen, if you look up a dictionary you will see something like this (this is the WordReference dictionary):

    • 1 [usu. with neg. or in questions] at any time. ■ used in comparisons for emphasis.

    • 2 at all times; always.

    • 3 increasingly; constantly.

    • 4 used for emphasis in questions expressing astonishment or outrage.
    The relevant definition is the first one for your examples (as mentioned by Forero above). The use of ever as you have described is common in some kinds of non-Standard Malaysian and Singapore English (non-Std SME), but it is not Standard English (StdE).

    I have ever been in Japan. (non-Std SME)
    I have been in Japan before. (StdE)

    If you look at the definition, it says 'at any time'. It might be helpful for you think think of substituting ever with at any time and see if that works.

    I have, at any time, been in Japan is not StdE (and not even non-Std SME). You would say: I have, at some point in time, been in Japan or I have been in Japan before. So ever is used in roughly the same way that you would use any - mainly with questions and negatives.

    The exception, as the definition indicates, is when you make a comparison - you might hear: This is the best cake ever! in informal StdE
     

    pheasant pluckers son.

    New Member
    English
    caught is the past tense of catch. so the ever is dropped. i.e. Yes, it caught a mouse

    and to add to Forero's alternative examples

    you can also use the present/future tense and add did. i.e. yes it did catch a mouse
     
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    Forero

    Senior Member
    Hi, Karen123456.

    There are lots of ways to answer the question using "ever caught":

    I don't know whether it ever caught a mouse.
    It hardly ever caught one and ate it.
    It only ever caught mice when it was angry with me.
    It was nine years old before it ever caught a mouse.

    I doubt it ever caught a mouse.
    If it ever caught a mouse, I never found out about it.
    It once caught what I believe to be the fastest mouse ever caught.


    But "It ever caught a mouse" all by itself is quite a different sort of "answer". It states without a shadow of a doubt that it ever caught a mouse, in other words that it caught a mouse at any time. Not only is such an answer unusual, but it is probably not what you mean.

    Here is what ever does in the question:

    Did your cat ever catch a mouse? = Did your cat catch a mouse in 2000? Did it catch a mouse in 2001? Did it catch a mouse in 2002? ... [Is the answer to any of these questions "Yes"?]

    And here is what it does to your "answer":

    My cat ever caught a mouse. = My cat caught a mouse in 2000. It caught a mouse in 2001. It caught a mouse in 2002. ... [The answer to any of the questions is "Yes".]

    There is a world of difference between "My cat was ever ready to catch mice" and "My cat was not ever ready to catch mice". In between are things like "It caught only one mouse", "It only caught mice that appeared to be ill", and "It was a late bloomer, but it eventually learned to catch three mice at one time".

    Similarly there is a lot of room between "My cat was ever faithful to its duty to catch mice" and "My cat was not ever faithful to its duty to catch mice".

    Notice how much difference the negative word not makes. The answers in the list above all suggest some sort of negative, but "It ever caught a mouse" does not.

    A question also suggests a negative because any answer denies any other answer. A yes-or-no question is a choice between a positive and a negative:

    Did your cat ever catch a mouse?
    Was your cat ever ready to catch mice?
    Was your cat ever faithful to its duty to catch mice?

    I hope this helps.
     
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