A friend posted the following on Facebook recently, possibly to get a rise out of people:
The future has never begun yet.
I have been trying to figure out why I keep rejecting the construction, but I can't put my finger on it. Part of my objection is logical, but I think there may be a grammar issue as well.
The sentence is talking about "the future," which is by definition all of that which has not happened but which will (with certainty) occur. The verb "has...begun" is in present perfect tense, which means the action started some time ago and either ended already or is continuing up to this point. These things by themselves are incompatible; once something occurs, it is no longer the future, but the past.
Including the adverb "never" fixes this by removing the incompatibility. To say "the future has never begun" makes sense as a tautology: anything that begins is not the future. If it has begun, then it's either the past or the present. That's the kind of sentence that makes people chuckle once they parse it.
But adding "yet" on the end changes things. In this position, "yet" indicates that something hasn't happened up to this point but either might or will happen later. But as noted above, this is impossible. It would be like saying "2 + 2 has never equaled 5 yet." Without the "yet," it makes sense. With the "yet," it sounds like you expect the laws of the universe change, and you're just biding your time.
I don't think the sentence breaks any grammatical rules, but it is at least illogical because of that final "yet." Is there some other rule about combining the adverbs "never" and "yet" with a present perfect verb tense? Or is it legal, just potentially confusing based on subject matter?