We use the present perfect simple this way when talking about our experience up to now in life:
I have visited Rio, but I have never been to Buenos Aires.
We use indefinite time adverbs like ever, before, never.
I’m sure we’ve met before.
The standard question in this use of the present perfect is Have you ever + past participle?
Have you ever cooked a meal for more than ten people?
If we want to talk about specific details about the experience, we usually change to the past simple and use adverbs of finished time (yesterday, lastmonth, three years ago).
Have you ever seen a ghost?
Yes, I have. I saw one at my granny’s house twenty years ago.
Watch the first video below and try to understand the conversation. Pay attention to the Have you ever…? questions. Also pay attention to the way these two teachers sometimes change to the past simple to discuss detail of the experience they are talking about.
Remember the short answer:
Have you ever seen a ghost?
Yes, I have.
No, I haven’t.
The second video is a follow-up of the first one. But the conversation is a bit harder to understand. However, it is interesting to watch because it very well exemplifies the change from present perfect simple to ask about experience to the past simple/past continuous to give details of that experience.
Have you ever ridden an unusual animal?
Yes I have. I’ve ridden an elephant. Have you?
No, I have not.
Have you ever tried any extreme sports?
Yes, I have. I’ve jumped out of an airplane.
Yes! I’ve also been skydiving.
Ah, isn’t it fun?
Have you ever fired a gun?
Ah, yes I have.
What did you shoot at?
It was just shooting at a target.
Yes, I have, also at a target.
And have you ever hitch-hiked?
Yes, I have, once in Boston.
No, I’ve never done that.
Have you ever given a speech to more than ten people?
Yes, I have, to a room full of people when I was at school.
Yes, I have. A few times at school.
And have you ever sung in a karaoke bar?
Yes, I have. I love karaoke. I have sung in several.
Really? And what do you like to sing?
All songs mostly. Have you?
No, I’m too afraid. I’ve never sung in a karaoke bar.
And have you ever worn a silly hat in public?
Yes, I have for certain holidays or festivals. Have you?
Well, not since I became an adult. When I was a small child, yes, but… I’m too grown-up now.
Ok. And have you ever fallen down in public?
I’m sure I have. Have you?
I think everybody does.
So have you ever slept in a tent?
Yes, I have, when I was camping.
Ah, ok. Where were you camping?
I was camping in Connecticut where my parents lived.
Ok. Was it a big tent?
No, not big enough.
How many of you were camping?
Well, I think there were four of us.
But it was good fun.
Have you ever seen a shark?
Fortunately only in the aquarium, because I think I would die of fear if I really saw one…
… when I am swimming at the beach.
Yes, of course.
No, I can’t say that I have.
They are very scary-looking creatures.
I believe it.
They really are.
I love to watch television programmes about them.
And have you ever played a joke on someone?
Yes, I have. Once I went to visit a friend’s university and while he was out of his room I put the fish tank on top of his bed, an empty one but a large one, and then filled it to the top with water, so that removing that tank and all of its contents would be something he would have to come home to.
That’s very, very cruel, especially if he came home very tired.
Well, we were very good friends.
Have you ever fallen asleep when someone is talking to you?
I don’t think so. That would be a bit rude. I know that I often fall asleep in front of the television, though.
It’s a… it’s too easy sometimes. The sofa is very comfortable.
Actually I have. I was talking to a friend very late at night and we’d had a bit of wine and in the morning she told me that I’d stopped listening.
You just drifted off. She wasn’t too offended, I hope.
No, also good friends.