(?) Jack Nicholson is as great an actor as has ever lived.

8769

Senior Member
Japanese and Japan
A grammar book at hand shows sentence #1 below.
1. Keats is as great a poet as ever lived.

Which sentence, #2 or #3, is grammatically correct with Jack Nicholson then?
2. Jack Nicholson is as great an actor as ever lived.
3. Jack Nicholson is as great an actor as has ever lived.

Jack Nicholson is a living actor, so I think only #3 is correct and that #2 is not. Am I correct?
 
  • The Slippery Slide

    Senior Member
    Britain
    In this case, it doesn't matter whether the person is living. You are talking about all time, so the grammar is the same.

    Number three is correct.

    Number one and two are technically incorrect, although people probably say the sentence like that sometimes.

    And to my mind, Jack Nicholson is as overrated an actor as has ever lived.
     

    8769

    Senior Member
    Japanese and Japan
    Thank you for you prompt reply, The Slippery Slide.
    In this case, it doesn't matter whether the person is living. You are talking about all time, so the grammar is the same....Number one and two are technically incorrect, although people probably say the sentence like that sometimes....
    Your comment is stimulating to me. Actually, many English-Japanese dictionaries describe “as …as ever lived” as a set phrase even.



    Now let me make sure I understand you correctly. Do I understand, technically speaking, only #5 below is grammatically correct and that #4 is not?
    4. My mother died when I was a child. She was as great a mother as ever lived.
    5. My mother died when I was a child. She was as great a mother as has ever lived.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I would say, "She was as great a mother as has ever lived."
    I can't for the life of me explain the grammar, but in my mind, the term "as ever lived" precludes the necessity of using "has". I think it's because the word "as" replaces "who has" or "which has". For example, changing the sentence slightly, I would most naturally say:

    Jack Nicholson is the greatest actor who ever lived.

    I would not say:

    Jack Nicholson is the greatest actor who has ever lived.

    For some reason, "as ever lived" sounds perfectly natural and correct to me.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Jack Nicholson is a living actor, so I think only #3 is correct and that #2 is not. Am I correct?
    But Jack Nicholson is not the subject of lived. The implied subject of lived is any other actor who ever lived.

    Does all the actors who ever lived include living actors? I think so: I don't think that the use of past tense always implies that the action is not happening now.
     

    8769

    Senior Member
    Japanese and Japan
    ...I don't think that the use of past tense always implies that the action is not happening now.
    Do I understand you think sentece #2(Jack Nicholson is as great an actor as ever lived. ) is grammatically correct, se16teddy?
     

    Julianus

    Senior Member
    Korean
    4. My mother died when I was a child. She was as great a mother as ever lived.
    5. My mother died when I was a child. She was as great a mother as has ever lived.
    If the main verb is present, I think the following sentences are all correct.

    a. She is as great a mother as ever lived. b. She is as great a mother as has ever lived.


    And, if the main verb is past tense, I think the following sentence correct.

    4. She was as great a mother as ever lived.

    But, if the main verb is past tense, is the 5 sentence correct?

    5. She was as great a mother as has ever lived

    Shoudn't it be the following sentence?

    c. She was as great a mother as had ever lived. if this sentence is correct too. how different is this with 5.sentence?
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    If the main verb is present, I think the following sentences are all correct.

    a. She is as great a mother as ever lived. b. She is as great a mother as has ever lived.


    And, if the main verb is past tense, I think the following sentence correct.

    4. She was as great a mother as ever lived.

    But, if the main verb is past tense, is the 5 sentence correct?

    5. She was as great a mother as has ever lived

    Shoudn't it be the following sentence?

    c. She was as great a mother as had ever lived. if this sentence is correct too. how different is this with 5.sentence?
    All of these sentences (a, b, c, 4, and 5) are correct.

    The sentences that start with "She is as great" are comparing the mother she is now with each mother in a set; the ones that start with "She was as great" are comparing the mother she was (at some time in the past) with each mother in a set.

    The sentences that end end with "as ever has lived" include every mother that has ever lived in the comparison set, the ones that end with "as ever had lived" may exclude mothers who lived after some time in the past, and the sentences with "as ever lived" normally mean the same as the ones with "as ever has lived" but, with additional context, can be made to mean the same as the ones with "as ever had lived".

    There is no requirement for the mother called "she" or the other mothers to be or not to be alive at the same time.
     
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