The word never is not a verb and therefore any tense can be used after the word. The word ‘never’ is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as an adverb meaning ‘at no time in the past or future’ or simply ‘not ever’. The word never can be used when describing something that is either past, present, or future tense. It is singular or plural depending on whether the subject of the sentence is singular or plural.
Continue reading on to learn more about the brief history and etymology of the word, and examples of how to use the word never with different verb tenses.
History and Etymology of Never
The word never comes from the Middle English word næfre. Ne was the word part that in ancient times was added to mean no or not. It was added to ‘æfre’ which means ever in Middle English. Together the word combined to mean never, or not ever.
Over centuries the word ‘næfre’ became known simply as never. Sometimes the word never can be contracted as ‘ne’er’ but this was mainly used and can commonly be found in old English poetry and literature.
Using Never in Past Tense
The word ‘never’ can be used to describe verbs happening in the past. Here are a few examples of how to use the past tense form of never.
- As a child, he was never allowed to watch television during the week.
- I never walked alone at night when I was younger.
- It never occurred to me that I was wrong in the situation.
You can see that when using ‘never’ in the past tense, it must describe something that happened in the past such as allowed, walked, or occurred.
Never in Present Tense
You can also use the word never to describe something that is happening in the present tense. For example
- Because I don’t have a tv, I never watch it.
- She never walks alone at night because she considers it to be unsafe.
- I was wrong in the situation, but it never occurs to me in the moment.
By using the word ‘never’ with watch, walks, and occurs, you can transform your sentence into a present tense form.
Using Never in Future Tense
The word ‘never’ is an adverb that can also be used in the future tense. Here are some examples of using the word ‘never’ to describe a future event.
- I don’t like tv, so I will never watch it again.
- She was attacked late at night on campus so she will never walk alone at night again.
- It will probably never occur to me that I am wrong.
In these examples, ‘never’ is used in the future tense by pairing it with the word will. Because will shows future intent, you can easily transform a past or present tense into a future tense.
We sometimes use “never” at the beginning of the sentence and we invert the subject and the verb. This is an old form of English but it is still used today to emphasize a strong feeling(usually shock).
- Never have I seen such bad behavior.
- Never has there been such a great response
- Never have I ever eaten in that establishment.