1. I never wanted this watch.
  2. I’ve never wanted this watch.

I’ve heard sentences like (1) very often by natives and they really use the past simple to say the same thing as the present perfect (If I am right).

Do they really use the past simple to mean the present perfect thing??

  • Hm, you're on to something. But the opposite is more likely to use perfect ("I've always wanted") Mar 6 at 20:27
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    For what it's worth, though both seem colloquial to me, Ngram shows a vast preference for the shorter phrase: books.google.com/ngrams/… Mar 7 at 0:57
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    I find it easy to see a difference between I always liked him and I've always liked him. Past Simple doesn't carry the "applicable to time of utterance" connotations, so to me it implies "he" has passed on or moved away (so I can't really continue liking him). I don't so instantly see the comparable difference with OP's examples, but if I stop to think about it, the "less common" Simple Past could carry the same implication: I can't continue not wanting it (i.e. - I've changed my position - now I do want it!). Mar 7 at 1:27

1 Answer 1


"I never wanted this watch." I have the watch and reluctantly wear it, because my mother gave it to me.

"I’ve never wanted this watch." I'm in the Apple store with a friend, looking at the $999 Watch Pro Turbo GTX, and will not be buying it today – again.

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