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Have you ever been/Did you ever go to opera when you lived in Milan? was closed as a duplicate of How do the tenses and aspects in English correspond temporally to one another?

I think the closed question turns on the fact that when you lived in Milan represents a single specific period in the past that definitely occurred, which is why only Did you ever...? works.

But I can't see anything in answers to the "canonical" question that addresses this point. If we change the "when-clause" restriction to be something that could have happened repeatedly (or indeed, might never have happened), we could contrast, for example...

1: Did you ever go to the opera when you were a drunk?
2: Have you ever been to the opera when you were drunk?

...where (1) again probably refers to a single known past timeframe (during which you had alcohol abuse issues), but (2) simply restricts the scope of the question to the co-occurrence of two past activities (being at the opera, and being drunk), either or both of which may never have occurred.

For me the closed question isn't about how do the verb tenses work?. It's about whether when references a specific, actual past time, or simply a condition/action which might have occurred.

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    The distinction you perceive here seems sufficient to justify reopening the question. In general, I think, it is better to leave open a question that is similar but not identical to an earlier question than to play Procrustes, forcing the later question into conformity with the earlier one and then closing it as a duplicate. (That's not to say that functionally duplicate questions are rare on this site; they are quite common and should be closed mercilessly.) – Sven Yargs Jun 24 '15 at 20:04
  • I agree that it is not a duplicate because questions and 'did you ever' are not covered. But there might be other reasons to keep closed, like lack of research, ELL level material, and also the lack of grammaticality of one of the sentences. – Mitch Jun 25 '15 at 2:06
  • 'when you were drunk' and 'when you were a drunk' might have different temporal implications. I would think it better to compare apples to apples and choose one or the other. – Mitch Jun 25 '15 at 12:54
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    That is a totally daft page to link duplicate answers to in the first place! Booh to whoever did that. – Araucaria Jun 25 '15 at 13:09
  • @Mitch: Even if we discard the when-clause, I think you could still make a case for saying there's a difference between Have you ever drunk lager shandy? and Did you ever drink lager shandy? The first version is much more common, and some people might think they're completely interchangeable anyway, but to my ear the second one much more strongly implies Was there ever a time in the past when you habitually did this? (where the "literal" interpretation simply asks whether you did it even once). – FumbleFingers Jun 25 '15 at 15:18
  • @FumbleFingers I agree on your interpretation, but I was suggesting you edit to remove the 'a' from 'a drunk' in the first one. – Mitch Jun 25 '15 at 15:43
  • @Mitch: But I specifically added the article there because it was the smallest change I could think of that would distinguish the two different "scopes" of the when-clauses. With a, we're talking about co-occurrence within a specific (but potentially extended) period of time. Without it, we're just talking about two things that happened at the same time - either or both of which may have happened repeatedly (or never at all) at different times. – FumbleFingers Jun 25 '15 at 15:59
  • Will you be posting an answer? – Mari-Lou A Jun 28 '15 at 4:49
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    @Mari-Lou: The reason I wanted the question reopened was because although I recognize the usage distinction implied above, I don't really understand why it exists. To my ear, Have you ever cried when you were a child? (effectively, Have you cried as a child?) is extremely unusual phrasing, and I was kinda hoping someone might be able to formally identify it as "ungrammatical" in some way. I don't know how long the question's been reopened, but no-one has attempted to do this yet, so I guess I'd better post something - if only to start the ball rolling. Thanks for the ping, anyway. – FumbleFingers Jun 28 '15 at 12:20

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