the smallest washing machine I've ever seen


Senior Member

I watched a YouTube video just now. A young lady was introducing her newly-rented apartment. She pointed at a washing machine and said, "This is the smallest washing machine I've ever seen".

I might be wrong, but I think "ever" is used in sentences with negative words and questions. Can it be used in affirmative sentences?

Thanks a lot.
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    You mean, as an example, "That's the biggest washing machine I've ever seen"? Also, in the OP, small may be a positive attribute, rather than negative! In other words, you post/question is not very clear.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "Ever" is not restricted to negative sentences. As I said to my travel companion when our flight landerd in Iceland some years ago, "This is the furthest north I've ever been."* That is somewhere between neutral and positive.

    Where did you read this non-rule?

    *No longer true after a trip to northern Finland with the same travel companion, who in the intervening years had become my wife.


    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    That comment was about one specific use: "I have ever lost my keys."

    It is not correct about "all uses of the word ever".

    The way it is worded, you might think it means that. But it doesn't.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    It’s true in some uses but certainly not all. The first entry for it in Lexico reads:
    [usually with negative or in questions] At any time.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    That’s a very big ask. It’s complicated, as you’ll see if you look it up in dictionaries. But here are a few thoughts, at least…

    I think ever can be used wherever negative verb + ever can replace positive verb + never. For example:
    Don’t ever do that again! / Never do that again!
    They didn’t ever forget / They never forgot

    I wouldn’t ever do that :tick: / Would you ever do that? :tick: (works in negatives and questions)
    I always make that mistake :tick:/ I ever make that mistake :cross:
    It is always in my thoughts :tick: / It is ever in my thoughts :thumbsdown: (correct but archaic/literary)
    (Note that in the negative, not always and not ever have different meanings!)

    If ever you need help, just ask :tick:
    Did he ever call you back? :tick:
    She was more angry than I ever realised :tick:

    We seem to be going round in ever decreasing circles :tick:

    EVER (used for emphasis)
    Why ever would anyone think that? :tick:
    I don’t know how we ever managed without them :tick:
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