I lie in the bed feeling sorry for myself and start to feel guilty. I could have been nicer to Ellie. I never even kissed her goodbye. Michael never kissed me goodbye either but then again, he doesn't love and he doesn't care about me.

Source: Catherine Barry: "The Twenty-Eights Day". In Irish Girls About Town, 2004, p. 45.

I would like to ask for the explanation for the usage of the word "never" in that sentence. The context is as follows: The sentece is comment of the narrator of one short story on one particular event that occured some hours in the past. Just one morning she did not kiss her child goodbye. The word "never" indicats after all the present perfect which in this case would mean that she has never kissed her child goodbye.

P. S. There could be raised an objection that this is an duplicate of a question that was resolved here: Should I always use the perfect present, when the sentence uses "never"?. But I do not think so. I understand the usage of "never" in a sentence like this: "I lived in Europe in the 90s, but the entire time I never visited Italy". I think that my sentence – given the context – tells that the narrator did not kiss her daughter goodbye just in one particular morning. And that is the reason why she feels ashamed. So this behaviour was an exception from the rule. Normally – when she does not suffer from the mental instability – she kissed her goodbye. Just exactly from this reason I am puzzled by the usage of "never" in that sentence.

  • 1
    Didn't you ask this already? You're supposed edit that question and explain why it is not a duplicate in that post by providing details that make the difference clear. This puts it into the reopen queue to be considered for reopening. If you delete your post and make a new about the same thing, this could be considered abuse of the site.
    – Em.
    Aug 13, 2016 at 10:43
  • I think that I have explained why it is not in my opinion an duplicate in my P.S. addition
    – bart-leby
    Aug 13, 2016 at 10:50
  • 1
    I meant provide those details in the previous post. You're not supposed to delete previous questions. You are supposed to edit and improve them.
    – Em.
    Aug 13, 2016 at 10:54
  • This is still a duplicate. Read the answer and look at all the examples. I never said I would give you my car. I said I would lend you my car refers to a one-time event. Your statement The word "never" indicats after all the present perfect is incorrect. Aug 13, 2016 at 12:54

1 Answer 1



We drove to the shore, but I never even got to go into the water. A storm came in and they closed the beach to swimmers.

Does that mean that I never in my entire life have gone into the ocean? No, it does not. Never even applies to the context as defined in the utterance. It means that on this particular trip, I did not have the opportunity to go into the water.

Never even could be used to refer to something you have done every day of your life.

The little girl was so exhausted after playing in the sun all day, that she never even said her nightly prayers but fell asleep as soon as her cheek touched the pillow.

The same is true in your excerpt. It means that on that particular occasion, there were no goodbye kisses.

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