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Do these two sentences have the same meaning?

I've never thought of that.

I've never thought of that before.

To me, the first means I've never thought of that, and implies I still don't think of it now.

The second means I've never thought of that before now, and implies there's a change, that now I begin to think of it.

To answer this question: what'll you do in five years, what would you say? 1 or 2?

  1. I've never thought of that.

  2. I've never thought of that before

1 Answer 1

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If we consider the MOST PRECISE meaning of this sentence, you are correct. "Before" means that in this moment, one has indeed thought of it and thus bringing about a change.

However, in everyday language and even in formal writings, both sentences are used very much interchangeably. If anything, "before" is just for emphasis that the thought has never crossed one's mind.

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