Have you used “never” and “ever” often in your conversations in English?
How and when do we use “never” and “ever” and can you use them in the same question?
We’ll get into this today so that you understand how this works and when to use each.
It’s easy to be confused at first about when to use each one, but we will help you to understand the fundamentals and then build upon them.
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My name is Mosen and I’m from Iran. I’m addicted to your voices because I’ve been listening to your podcast for three months. I have a question–can we use ever and never in a sentence? I’ve learned it’s not possible, but I’ve heard people use this in a podcast. Please explain about this.
Answering A Common Question
This is a great question about two very common words in English.
So can we use ever and never in the same sentence?
We want to start by looking at the differences in these two words.
There are the basics and then usage, and we’re going to start with a good foundation.
As with anything, you want to be sure that you understand the basics and how words work first and foremost.
Then you can see how they work together or how they can’t be in a sentence together, and really why that is.
We’ll build up the fundamentals here, but even reviewing can be a really great thing sometimes.
It doesn’t matter where you are at with your English speaking, because review can always help you and ensure that you just keep getting better.
You may find that you are at a point where you want to figure out your level within English speaking, and we have a great way to do just that.
To start off and really know where you’re at with your English, head over to Fluency Score
This will give you your score and helps you to know where you’re at.
So let’s start by approaching this in first understanding the fundamentals, and then we can move forward from there.
Breaking This Down
So let’s start by breaking down what each one really means and how it is utilized.
- Never: At no time in the past, present, or future. On no occasion. Not ever. So it’s the negative or opposite of ever. You could say “I’ve never seen him before.” As a demand you could say “Never call me again!” You could also say “He’ll never get into that school with those grades.” Something we have learned and could say is “I’ll never eat a meal without washing my hands.” This is to say not ever.
- Ever: At anytime. This could be used in a negative such as “He won’t ever be on time for the meetings.” You could say it as a direct command like “Don’t ever be late like this again.” It may be used in a question like “Have you ever been to France?” You could also say “You’ve never been to France?” This is where you see that sometimes either can be used.
In the second example you may use it to sound more surprised, such as “You’ve never eaten sushi?”
To use “never” in this way is more surrpising and more casual.
If you use ever it may be more formal, and that’s a good way to remember it.
You may say things like “If you ever need help give me a call.”
You can change things slightly between the two and get the same meaning with a slight difference.
“I’ve never seen him before” could change to “I haven’t ever seen him before.” This may take a little longer to say so you might go for the first one.
“Never call me again” could change to “Don’t ever call me again”. Both work well here and are direct and get the point across.
“He’ll never get into that school with those grades” could change to “He won’t ever get into that school with those grades.”
Sometimes it may sound awkward or take too longer to say and so you go with the easier and more natural version.
There is a lot of grammar behind both words, but if both are correct then you usually go with the easier one to say.
You just want to be sure to avoid going with the double negative one to say because that doesn’t work.
This is about what’s easier to say, and some instances it may be easier to say one over another so go with the more natural sounding option.
Taking This One Step Further
You can see how both never and ever are used in conversation, but let’s take this to another level.
Typically you are going to use one or the other depending on the circumstance and what you are trying to communicate.
Though it is rare, there may be a couple of instances where you use the two together.
There are times when you use never and ever in a sentence per the question above from our listener, and you want to be sure to understand how that works.
- To make something more dramatic: You might say something like “Never ever do that…” It makes it way more dramatic and almost hits somebody in the face with that sentence. It’s double emphasizing what you are trying to say and gives it greater emphasis.
- A specific instance like a game: You might have heard of or even played the “Never have I ever game.” This is a very specific instance where you are talking about a game, so using both in the same sentence works just fine here.
You may be combining sentences and hear both used within that, but you don’t typically have never and ever right up against each other.
There are a couple of expressions in this area that you may come across.
These are great to try out in the right circumstances, and they utilize never or ever in the perfect way.
- “Never been better”: When someone asks you how you are, you can answer by saying something like “Never been better” or “never better.” Each of these work well, and can be a fun way to be cheerful. This immediately puts people at ease and makes you sound like a very positive person.
- “More than you’ll ever know”: This is a common one and you might hear this used from mother to child. This is talking about that enduring love that you can never understand. It shows that your love for this person is immeasurable, and it’s such a great way to express that.
You can see how these are used and now you even have expressions to use with each.
This shows you that it’s a very common part of conversation, and now you can determine when each one works and try them out for yourself.
Roleplay To Help
In this roleplay, Lindsay and Michelle are trying on shoes at a shoe store.
Michelle: “Sorry I’m late Lindsay, how are you?”
Lindsay: “Never been better.”
Michelle: “Okay good, let me put these on to try them.”
Lindsay: “Those look good.”
Michelle: “I’ll never wear them because they just aren’t comfortable.”
Lindsay: “That’s too bad.”
Michelle: “I should just get Birkenstocks again. I love them more than you’ll ever know.”
Lindsay: “I know but variety is important. Never underestimate the power of a comfortable insole for a shoe either.”
Michelle: “I’ve never ever been a fan of shoe shopping.”
Lindsay: “Have you ever tried that shoe store on the other side of the mall?”
Michelle: “No but should if you ever want to go there let me know. Want to go now?”
As you can see, there are very distinct uses for both “never” and “ever” in a conversation.
You can see that they can be used interchangeably, and so you want to be aware of that.
Always go with what sounds more natural and what is easier to say in a sentence because that’s a good way to determine usage.
This is a common scenario that will come up often in conversation, and now you know how to use both properly.
Practice and try them out so that you know what to use when you are in a given situation.
If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.
We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.