"Je n'ai jamais vu une grotte aussi grande."
Translation:I have never seen such a big cave.
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In British English, it depends on the effect on, relevance to or connection with what follows.
I saw it. Completed action in the past. No relevance to the present. simple past required.
I have seen it (and, but, however I have no intention of seeing it again). Connection with present or future: - present perfect required.
The presence of the adverb of time never is a problem, though. Much current usage has never as an intensifier for not so the meaning is "I didn't see it" (I saw it not). Which suggests "I never saw" is OK.
But if we take never in its proper sense, as an adverb of time, then the speaker is commenting from a present perspective, looking back at the past. He is looking at a cave, remembering his past experience. The past experience has relevance to and continued effect on the present. So, to me, that needs the present perfect. " I have never (hitherto) seen such a splendid cave, but now my every wish has been granted."
All in all, though, it is a small matter to get bent out of shape over. As is my final preposition.
I think that what you wrote also applies, to a limited extent, to American English. However, the correlation of "have seen" with a connection to the present is very weak. For instance, when asked about a country that was never on your itinerary, the phrases "I've never been there" and "I never went there" are pretty much interchangeable. In practice, people who see an amazing cave are about as likely to say "I never saw" as "I've never seen".
It just sounds wrong to me. I generally know when a sentence is wrong, but I can't always explain the grammatical intricacies, but in this case I think it is to do with the tense used - "never saw" = a once off action, while "have never seen" is more a continuous state. I may well be wrong though!
syntactically it can be 'I never saw' beacsue it is grammatically the passe compose... but this may be one case where it is only logical to translate avoir +verb as the present perfect CONTINUOUS (I HAVE(not ever before and continuing so) NEVER seen. With jamais providing the context to do so. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVmVP9CCRcU
October 26, 2021: "I never saw such a big cave" is now an accepted translation.
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