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I have been reading a novel (Bad for You) for the last ten days. I had read something odd, which did not sound natural to me so I landed here to get some help on it.

Bad for You

I tried hard not to let the fact Linc had been her first at something eat me alive. I wasn’t going to date her. I didn’t date, for starters. I tried that once, and I sucked at it. But I didn’t like sharing her either. She was mine. No, she wasn’t. She was my friend. Boundaries. I needed some boundaries in my head. Blythe was my friend. She made me happy. She was not mine. She never would be because I didn’t want someone to be mine.

My question is, can we use never before would or will? Does it work the same way or does it have a completely different meaning here?

Examples:

She never would be because I didn’t want someone to be mine.

She would never be because I didn’t want someone to be mine.

Please check the above sentences and let me know both are fine or not?

7

Never may either precede or follow a tensed auxiliary.

The ordinary position, as you know, is after the auxiliary.

He will never agree.
I have never liked sushi.
She will never be mine.

But in parallel clauses like this, never is usually placed before the auxiliary; this throws the stress onto the auxiliary and thus emphasizes the contrast in tenses.

He has not agreed, and he never will agree.
She is not mine, and she never will be mine.
I don't like sushi, and I never have liked sushi.

Note that the parallel clause need not occur in the same sentence; the speaker may ‘pick up’ a phrase to parallel in the previous sentence.

A: John has never agreed to proposals of this sort.
B: And he never will agree to them, trust me.

The displacement is not obligatory. When the second clause is full, never may occupy its normal place; in this case, never bears the stress.

okHe has not agreed, and he will never agree.
okShe is not mine, and she will never be mine.
okI don't like sushi, and I have never liked sushi.

But when the auxiliary stands alone, with what follows it (the complement and/or the main verb) ellipted, the never must precede the auxiliary.

okHe has not agreed, and he never will. ... but
He has not agreed, and he will never.

okShe is not mine, and she never will be. ... but
She is not mine, and she will never be.

okI don't like sushi, and I never have. ... but
I don't like sushi, and I have never.


marks a usage as unacceptable

Note that in clauses where the lexical verb is be acting as a copula (linking verb), the be cannot be ellipted; these are both ungrammatical:

She is not mine, and she never will.
She is not mine, and she will never.

But when the lexical verb is be without a complement, in the sense “exist, occur”, it can be ellipted, and the rules I describe above apply:

okThis must not be, and it never will be.
okThis must not be, and it will never be.

okThis must not be, and it never will.
This must not be, and it will never.

  • @StoneyB Thanks for your quick response. I am so sorry, I did not understand after this (When the complement is ellipted and the auxiliary stands alone (or followed only by be, in copulative clauses), the never must precede the auxiliary).Could you please explain it to me. – user62015 Jun 14 '14 at 3:46
  • @user62015 I have rewritten; I hope this makes it clearer. – StoneyB Jun 14 '14 at 11:18
  • Oh. As implied earlier, I didn't really have time to digest your post fully last night (I figured in principle I'd be able to understand all the ellipted complement / auxiliary stuff, but it's not second nature to me). All I remember thinking is there's definitely something about the verb to be in certain "never" constructions that makes it work different to other verbs. – FumbleFingers Jun 14 '14 at 13:22

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