Have you been/ Have you ever been- Any difference?

greystroke

Member
India ,English
Hi,


I came across these constructions in a grammar book.

Have you been to Rome?

Have you ever been to Rome?

Is there any difference in meaning and usage between the two sentences?Can't they be used interchangeably? Don't both of them refer to life's experience until now?

Can someone clarify please.

Thank you,

Arun
 
  • cropje_jnr

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    Is there any difference in meaning and usage between the two sentences?

    Generally, no, but in certain contexts the meaning could differ slightly. For instance you may have a friend who you knew was going to travel to Rome, but you haven't seen her in a while, so you ask 'have you been to Rome (yet)?' in reference to that specific trip.

    Can't they be used interchangeably?

    Yes they can, with the small caveat mentioned above.

    Don't both of them refer to life's experience until now?

    This is certainly the case if you add 'ever' to the sentence. Otherwise, the exact meaning is very often determined by context.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Hi, I came across these constructions in a grammar book.

    Have you been to Rome?

    Have you ever been to Rome?

    Is there any difference in meaning and usage between the two sentences? Can't they be used interchangeably? Don't both of them refer to life's experience until now?

    If you have been to Rome, your answer to both questions would be yes. As you say, they both refer to life's experience until now. The difference is a question of emphasis; ever emphasizes that the question applies to all the time until this moment.

    Two situations I can think of in which the version with ever is likely to be used:

    (1) To encourage someone to include every possible instance in their answer: A judge might ask you, "Have your ever seen this man before?" This means that he wants to know about any time you saw the man, even if only briefly, or in passing. [I'm sorry this example isn't about Rome.]

    (2) When the conversation is about something that other people have done at least once, but the person speaking and/ or the person addressed may not have done it. For instance, if several people are talking about what they did in Rome, one person might ask someone who is not participating in the conversation: "Have you ever been to Rome?"

    I hope this helps.

    Cropje posted while I was writing this. I agree with his example of when you would not use "ever", and his general explanation.
     
    Last edited:

    Forero

    Senior Member
    "Have you been to Rome?" can mean "Have you ever been to Rome?" It can also mean, depending on context:

    Have you just been to Rome?
    Have you been (back) to Rome yet?
    Have you been to Rome this week?
    Have you been to Rome lately?
    Have you been to Rome since I saw you last?

    For example, if I see a person in the San Francisco airport carrying a souvenir model of St. Peter's basilica, I might ask "Have you been to Rome?", and in that context, I would not expect anyone to think I am asking about the person's whole life experience. Whether or not the person has ever been to Rome, the answer might be "No. I got this from my niece in New York. She knows I am fond of domed buildings."
     
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