1

When you talk about your experience,

1A) "I haven't eaten sushi before."

1B) "I've never eaten sushi before."

Is there any difference?

When you answer a question like "Have you ever eaten sushi before?", which would you say?

2A) "No, I haven't."

2B) "No, I never have."

If there's any difference, please tell me what it is. Thank you.

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  • 2A is okay. 2B should be: "No, I have never."
    – myacorn
    Commented Dec 22, 2021 at 5:27
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    But I learnt that you say "No, I never have", not "No, I have never". My dictionary also says so. userdisk.webry.biglobe.ne.jp/022/089/64/N000/000/021/…
    – kuwabara
    Commented Dec 22, 2021 at 5:34
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    @myacorn Perhaps there is a dialectal difference, but in the U.S., "I never have" is fine. Commented Dec 22, 2021 at 5:37
  • My apologies. I have never heard that phrasing used before. ;)
    – myacorn
    Commented Dec 22, 2021 at 5:39
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    @myacorn Disagree. "No, I never have" is correct. "No, I have never" is unnatural.
    – gotube
    Commented Dec 22, 2021 at 8:53

2 Answers 2

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The two sentences mean the same thing. There are several ways we can form negatives in English, including:

  • Using the adverb "not".

  • Using the adverb "never".

  • Using the adjective "no".

  • Using a pronoun such as "none", "no one", or "neither".

Your sentences 1A and 1B are very similar, except that the positive equivalent of "never" is "ever", so sentence 1A could be "I haven't ever eaten sushi before."

I wouldn't include "ever" in sentence 2A, though, because it was included in the question. The biggest difference that I can identify in sentences 2A / 2B is that when speaking, you could place emphasis on the negative word "never"; you can't stress the clitic "n't" in sentence 2A.

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All of these answers are equivalent. You would be understood using any of them.

The only difference is that using the "never" form is expressing it slightly differently. The "have not" form is addressing the action and saying I did not do it. The "never" form is saying that I did it at no time. That is, the "never" form is negating the time and so indirectly the action, while the "have not" form is negating the action.

By the way, about the use of "before." You might use the word "before" in the question and answer if the conversation were taking place during the actual act of eating sushi. Then it would be referring to "before this meal." Otherwise, you should leave it out since it is redundant.

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