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    #1

    I didn't see / never saw him steal the money.

    I didn't see him steal the money.

    I never saw him steal the money.

    Are both sentences OK? Thanks.

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: I didn't see / never saw him steal the money.

    If you are speaking of one act of theft, the first is better.

    If there were several acts of theft over a period of time, both work.

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    #3

    Re: I didn't see / never saw him steal the money.

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post

    If there were several acts of theft over a period of time, both work.
    Hello 5jj,

    Shouldn't we use, for the several acts of theft, something like "I've never seen him steal any money?" That is to say, shouldn't we use the past perfect and at the same time drop the definite article? Because with the definite article it sounds to me that the same money is being stolen over and over in different times. Is my interpretation correct?

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    #4

    Re: I didn't see / never saw him steal the money.

    Quote Originally Posted by euncu View Post
    Shouldn't we use, for the several acts of theft, something like "I've never seen him steal any money?"
    If the person were merely under suspicion, and I had been asked whether I had noticed him stealing, I would use the present perfect: "I've never seen him steal any money?". If he had been arrested and convicted, I would use the past simple or, in certain contexts the past perfect: "I never saw / had never seen him ..."

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    #5

    Re: I didn't see / never saw him steal the money.

    You will hear "I never + simple past" from a lot of native speakers.

    John: What did you do on Saturday evening?
    Pete: I went to the cinema.
    Tim: Really? I'm sure I saw you at the local pub.
    Pete: I went for a drink before the cinema. I never saw you though.

    Teacher: Billy, did you hit Bobby earlier?
    Billy: No.
    Teacher: Bobby says you did.
    Billy (indignantly): I never hit him! He's lying!
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #6

    Re: I didn't see / never saw him steal the money.

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    You will hear "I never + simple past" from a lot of native speakers.
    But, technically, it is wrong, I suppose.

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    #7

    Re: I didn't see / never saw him steal the money.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tan Elaine View Post
    But, technically, it is wrong, I suppose.
    In situations such as those given by ems, it's not considered to be 'good English', but it's common in informal conversation for many people. It will probably be marked as incorrect in an examination.

  6. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: I didn't see / never saw him steal the money.

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    You will hear "I never + simple past" from a lot of native speakers.

    John: What did you do on Saturday evening?
    Pete: I went to the cinema.
    Tim: Really? I'm sure I saw you at the local pub.
    Pete: I went for a drink before the cinema. I never saw you though.

    Teacher: Billy, did you hit Bobby earlier?
    Billy: No.
    Teacher: Bobby says you did.
    Billy (indignantly): I never hit him! He's lying!
    And then Fletcher Christian turns to him, asking: "Are you a bloody liar?"

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