I am just arguing with my friend if the phrase "do never something" is totally wrong compared to the phrase "do not ever something". And is "never" a contraction of "not ever"? Is it okay using "Do" in the beginning to emphasize a word?

I am about to say "Do NEVER remove the credit!" as my warning notice on my free projects that shared publicly. But someone told me the sentence is wrong and said the correct one should be "Do not ever remove the credit!". I am fine with "Do not ever" this never wrong in grammar. Then I say that using "Do never such a thing!" is also fine ("Do" work as an emphasis). Because I ever seen someone else using this pattern.

  • 1
    The word never has been with us since the Old English period, where we have næfre which is ne + æfre, i.e. not + ever.
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 13:19
  • Never is equivalent to "not ever" but it's not a direct contraction; i.e never is roughly ne + ever and not is actually a shortening of ne + thing (i.e. not is actually derived from nothing)
    – eques
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 13:19
  • @Lawrence: I am about to say "Do NEVER remove the credit!" on my free projects and shared publicly. But someone told me the sentence is wrong and said the correct one should be "Do not ever remove the credit!". I am fine with "Do not ever" this never wrong in grammar. Then I say that using "Do never bla bla!" is also not wrong. Because I ever seen some else using this pattern. Thanks.
    – Awan
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 2:14
  • 2
    You say you have seen someone else write "do never." If that person truly wrote "do never" when they wanted to convey the same meaning as "do not ever," I strongly suggest that you never use anything that person has written as an example of how to write correct English.
    – David K
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 22:03

7 Answers 7


We can say things like:

Don't ever text while driving. Don't ever do such a foolish and dangerous thing!

Never text while driving. Never do such a foolish and dangerous thing!

But we don't say "Do never do such a thing".unidiomatic

P.S. In contemporary English, the do never {verb} construction is either a formulaic literary holdover from the 17th century, a petrified expression, or a regionalism. One may still find it in religious texts, where the language tends to be conservative and resistant to change, and often imitates the phrasings of earlier exemplars.

  • Thank you for the explanation, I just edited my question so more clearly, too. So, if I say "Do never text while driving!" also not correct? Thanks.
    – Awan
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 2:42
  • 2
    "Do never text while driving!" is wrond. It is always wrong to use "do never" as an imperatrive (command).
    – Mawg
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 9:04
  • 1
    @EkoYuliawan Indeed, one would use "Never text while driving instead!" (just added this because the lack of a sentence without do in the answer may make things a bit unclear)
    – Jasper
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 9:47

never and not ever are almost equivalent, but there are some restrictions on the use of the latter.

As for do never, in this context it's an oxymoron- two words used together that have, or seem to have, opposite meanings. do 3.1 is a positive imperative (albeit quite a polite one): it tells you that you must do the main verb, whereas never is a negative imperative: you must not under any circumstance do the main verb.

Note, you can negate do with not, and that makes a negative imperative, which is much more common than the positive form. You can add ever to make it even more emphatically negative.

If you reverse the word order, you get never do. This is perfectly acceptable as long as do is the main verb, rather than an imperative.

If an archaic statement like "Never the twain meet" and turn it into a question:

Do never the twain meet?

This works because do in this context is not an imperative but a question auxiliary.

  • 6
    It may not be standard English, but it's not necessarily an oxymoron, at least no more so than "never do".
    – Lawrence
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 13:32
  • @Lawrence: as I mentioned, never do is perfectly acceptable as long as it's the main verb. If it's an emphatic auxiliary, as in "Never do cross the road on your own", it's still an oxymoron.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 13:46
  • Then never <verb> would always be contradictory. Is that implied or wrong? I think it's idiomatic and so "do never" would be different. Still, you explain how native speakers might misunderstand it. I think it answers the question.
    – Hector von
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 18:53
  • @Hectorvon: never <verb> is not a contradiction; do never <verb> is.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 18:59
  • never do <verb> is the same as never <verb>, if do is used as intensifier, which might be unusual, though. Edit: And that might be the same for do never <verb>, using an intensifier there is just not common, never <verb> is sufficiently emphatic. So, did you think do never <v> and never do <v> would be comparable?
    – Hector von
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 19:21

And is "never" a contraction of "not ever"?

No, but you're close. Never is a compound of "ne (meaning not) + ever, but not a contraction.

Source: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=never

  • oh, what is the difference between a compound and a contraction?
    – XPMai
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 10:10
  • 3
    @XPMai: "Don't" is a contraction of two words (do + not). The apostrophe—which is required—signifies missing letters. "Evergreen" (ever + green, as in "an evergreen tree") is a compound word. Compound words do not necessarily mean the sum of their parts—a compound word has it's own meaning, while contractions are always exactly equivalent to the full form (apart from tone). For example, you can't say that a green car is "evergreen", because that's not what evergreen means. But you can substitute "cannot" and "that is" in the previous sentence without changing the meaning.
    – user42899
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:13

"Do never" itself sounds quite odd to me. In my years as a native English speaker, I've never heard it used in US or British English.

Some proper examples of "do not" include:

  • Don't drink and drive!
  • (You should) never drink and drive!
  • Don't ever drink and drive


  • For signage and public warnings, "DO NOT X" is used more commonly.
  • In conversation, "do not ever" or "never do that again" is much more dramatic and uncommon in a normal discussion than just saying "Don't do that". I'd leave the word "ever" out in this case.
  • Contextually, if you're asking people not to remove credit from your work that you're releasing publicly, instead of saying "Do not", I would suggest one of the following:
    • You must credit the original author(s) in all derivative works of this project; or,
    • Please do not remove credit to the original author(s) of this project in derivative works.

First, "do never" is non-standard and would get you funny looks from native speakers. "Do not ever" or "don't ever" are both fine.

Second, no, "never" is not a contraction of "not ever".


The confusion you are having stems from a misunderstanding of what the word not is associated with.

You are associating it with the word ever which would make the phrase equivalent to:

Perform an act (do) at no point in time (not ever)

Which makes no logical sense at all. How can you be instructed to perform an act but not be allowed a time to perform it?

With the not associated with the do instead it makes more sense:

You must never perform an act (do not) at some point in time (ever)

Which is possible to do. You can abstain from an action in a given time frame, but you cannot perform an action with explicitly no time to perform it in.

So the not can be contracted with the do since the two words are associated together into a single meaning:

Don't ever

It's also worth noting that don't ever is usually seen as more emphatic than never, such as:

Never go to the mall on Sunday, it's boring.


Don't ever let me catch you doing that again!

  • Good answer. Let me add that there's a similar dialectic construction, generally considered improper English, but it adds a second "not" to associate with ever--"don't never..." If there's only one "not", don't never associate it with the "ever".
    – fixer1234
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 17:42

Both are wrong.
Here are some sentences that you can use.

  1. Hey, Chris. Never do something like that.
  2. Hey, Chris. Don't ever do something like that.
  • 13
    There's nothing wrong with "do not ever." That is standard English
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 2:51

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