I came across two sentences which were:

The water was higher than (n)ever before.

I was as happy as I had (n)ever been.

I am confused as to how can "ever" be substituted by "never" in these sentences? I haven't seen "never" being used in that way. Here is the link to the sentences.

  • 3
    Did the passages actually read never? If so, they were ungrammatical. Apr 21, 2019 at 11:48
  • 1
    As StoneyB says, never doesn't fit in either sentence. Are you sure that the sentences were not intended for students to make the correct choice? Apr 21, 2019 at 11:56
  • I find these sentences in a post on this very site. Link to that post - google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://…
    – Kelvin
    Apr 21, 2019 at 12:45
  • That question does not have an accepted answer. It's possible those are bad examples.
    – miltonaut
    Apr 21, 2019 at 14:28
  • 1
    @Kelvin The answer specifically says that is fossilized and waning usage. It goes on to say that "today we would express this negative sense with an -ever compound or, as you suggest, with even." Apr 21, 2019 at 15:10

1 Answer 1


You cannot use 'never' in the context of the quotations you cite in modern English, in fact I don't believe those sentences could use 'never' in an archaic sense either. If you used 'never' in those sentences, I can assure you native English speakers would think you were making a mistake.

You can, of course, reword the sentences to use never.

The water had never been so high.

I had never been so happy.

But, you're really saying something quite different, where the negative sense of never makes sense.

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