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    #1

    never was / went

    Hello,

    When speaking of our experiences, we should normally choose the present perfect, for example

    I've never been to Australia.

    If I want to say the same about, say, my great-grandma, I'll use the simple past. However, should it be

    (1) She never was in Australia
    rather than
    (2) She never went to Australia?

    Thank you for your help.

    PS I believe the silly questions are the ones that are not asked...

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: never was / went

    Quote Originally Posted by Verona_82 View Post
    If I want to say the same about, say, my great-grandma, I'll use the simple past. However, should it be

    (1) She never was in Australia
    rather than
    (2) She never went to Australia?
    Both are possible, though there is a different focus. #1 focuses on her being there, #2 on her going there. In some situations, you could use either, but in some only one is likely.

    Possible examples are:

    1. She often speaks about Melbourne and Canberra as though she knew them well, but she was never in Australia.

    2. She visited New Zealand three times in her life, but she never went to Australia.


    Incidentally, the normal word order for #1 is: She was never in Australia.

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    #3

    Re: never was / went

    Thank you, 5jj.

    Though I know that adverbs of frequency go after be, my fingers wouldn't type 'was never' I've seen 'never was' so often that the phrase must have crept into the unconscious. Thanks for pointing that out!

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: never was / went

    'Never was' is not incorrect. It is just more emphatic.

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    #5

    Re: never was / went

    The freedom is scary sometimes.

  3. 5jj's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: never was / went

    Quote Originally Posted by Verona_82 View Post
    The freedom is scary sometimes.
    .

    Try to relax - when you are speaking informally at least. Many of the things that we note as 'incorrect' in this forum would pass unremarked when you are speaking.

    Take your two sentences, for example. Even if you uttered one in a situation in which 99% of native speakers would utter the other, the meaning would still come clearly through. And if you said 'never was' when 99% of us would say 'was never', very few people would even notice.

    You want to speak and write as naturally and accurately as possible. That is natural, but try to enjoy your efforts.

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