Do I understand the difference between these two sentences properly?
Do I understand the difference between these two sentences properly?
It’s the best movie I’ve ever seen = unfinished action, this is the best movie for me as of now, but I may see a better one in the future.
This was the best movie I ever saw = finished action, that movie was so good that I’m absolutely sure that I will not see a better one in the future.
Jun 27, 2020 8:28 AM
Comments · 6
Not really. The concept of finished and unfinished actions is not relevant: it's a question of finished or unfinished time periods. Let me give you another example:

A: "He was the best student I've ever had"
B: "He was the best student I ever had"

The first sentence might be said by someone who is currently working as teacher: they use the present perfect because the period in question is still ongoing.

The second sentence would be said by someone who is no longer a teacher: the period in question (i.e. their teaching career) is over. They have retired, or maybe changed careers.

As you can see, this has nothing to do with how good the student was. The reason why the second speaker will never have a better student is that they are no longer teaching. That period of their life is fixed in the past and will not change.

So what about your example? Well, those of us who instinctively follow the standard distinction between the simple and perfect aspects would not normally say "It's the best movie I ever saw". This implies that your movie-watching life is over, which is a strange idea. It would be an odd thing for a British English speaker to say.

In American English, of course, the situation would be different: American English speakers often use the past simple for both finished and unfinished time periods. For many American English speakers, your two sentences would have the same meaning.

June 27, 2020
But it has been pointed out the sentences are not about unfinished actions - Him watching the film or not or him not finishing watching the film into the future. The sentences are about "time" for this context.
To express the unfinished action it would be as below.
To express that it would have to be "It was the best movie I have ever sat through" or "I have ever watched" , but even this might just be me being a bit naughty, because there is no sense of continuing to the future even though I changed the words, from seen to watched or sat through both = he saw and the action is finished. The film has an end when the credits roll and you make a cup of tea or coffee, or the audience leaves the cinema/theatre. Only The film ends he does not stop watching the film or is interrupted into the future. if he could finish watching seeing sitting through the film, this would have to be explained with a reason why or how this happened.
June 27, 2020

Present Perfect Tense can be used with both Unfinished Actions and Finished Actions.

Unfinished Actions
1: We use this tense when we want to talk about unfinished actions or states or habits that started in the past and continue to the present. Usually we use it to say 'how long' and we need 'since' or 'for'. We often use stative verbs.

Finished Actions
2: Life experience. These are actions or events that happened sometime during a person's life. We don't say when the experience happened, and the person needs to be alive now. We often use the words 'ever' and 'never' here.

So I just want to tell you how I understand your sentences.

It’s the best movie I’ve ever seen -> This is the best movie for me as of now, but I may see a better one in the future. = It sounds perfectly OK.

This was the best movie I ever saw = It sounds like the old information to me because everything is in the past tense. Don't you like it anymore? Do you change your mind?

That movie was so good that I’m absolutely sure that I will not see a better one in the future. = I will just say "This is the best movie ever."
June 27, 2020
Well I agree with La Liseuse about A Brit saying "it is the best movie I will ever see" but I must have had American influenced teachers, and/or<em> </em><em>unconsciously</em> been exposed to American English for much of my life, I'm in agreement with Dan the sentences are ambiguous and leave out vital clues that an English speaker would give and use stress patterns to give the clues, or cues. The differences to me although understanding what La Liseuse says are so minor and subtle it is not worth arguing about, until the clues we seek are either spoken or written in. We are taught to try and keep writing simple but sometimes you just can't, to clarify you have to say or write a little but more.

"Did/have you seen the brilliant movie by the new film director Dan la Lissuseky the Russian guy, it was so fantastic I'm sure it is going to be the best movie I'm ever going to see". -- This is true proper natural [no slang] emotional expressive English that is spoken by natives on the street in their homes and amongst their friends and colleagues.

This links directly to a discussion in this forum about why people who learn in a class do not always converse naturally with natives. At least not until they have had several years of learning and exposure. It explains why "when the natives enter the room even though the non natives are good speakers" 'communication breaks down' " I do not remember or keep discussion links.
June 27, 2020
To express the idea "that movie was so good that I’m absolutely sure that I will not see a better one in the future," one could say:

"This was the best movie I ever will see," or
"This was the best movie I am ever going to see."

This is such a strong opinion that it would usually be stated with some context before it; for example,

"This was not only the best movie I've ever seen, I think it is the best movie I ever will see."

Finally, in English, in real life, we do not really rely solely on the verb tense to express our meanings. The verb tense is one of many cues, and not a very strong one. If you are <em>writing</em>, it is up to you to make your meaning clear. If it is important to express what happened first, and what was happening when something else was happening, usually you should need to do more than use the right verb tense. If you are listening, other words in the sentence will tell you what the speaker means.

For example, if someone says "Yesterday, I am walking down Sycamore Street and these little kids are drawing the rainbows on the sidewalk in chalk," we know that he means "Yesterday I <em>was</em> walking" and "These kids <em>were</em> drawing."

June 27, 2020
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