Use of “never” with “have”



I have a question regarding the use of negation:Is the following sentence grammatically correct?

I never been have a good English.


Posted 2014-01-17T16:58:38.077

Reputation: 39

2I've never been good at English. – Damkerng T. – 2014-01-17T16:59:52.863

2Or, I never have been good at English . – J.R. – 2014-01-17T17:07:39.620

2Out of curiosity, did you see this sentence somewhere? And, if I'm not being too rude, how long have you been learning English? Because your opening lines suggest you have achieved a high standard, to say: Is the following sentence grammatically correct?" Is very good English compared to the last sentence. – Mari-Lou A – 2014-01-17T19:18:35.100



*I never been have a good English.

And I don't believe the Op wants to say: "I have never been good at English"

Instead, if I'm not mistaken, the op wishes to say:

My English has never been good
My English never has been good

There's something about "a good English" that tells me the OP is talking about the level of his or her English. In Italian it is correct to say: "Ha un buon inglese"( *that person has a good English), but in order to be grammatical and sound idiomatic, we have to say: "His (or her) English is good."

To change that sentence into the present perfect we must say: "So far his English has been good."

In the present perfect, the negative adverb, never, is usually between the auxiliary— has —and the main verb in the past participle, in this case; been. My grammar books indicate that this is the correct word order.

Present perfect with ever, never, already, yet

'Never' means at no time before now, and is the same as not ..... ever:

I have never visited Berlin

You can use the Present Perfect to describe your experience. It is like saying, "I have the experience of..." You can also use this tense to say that you have never had a certain experience. The Present Perfect is NOT used to describe a specific event.

He has never traveled by train.

However, I am aware that never can also precede the auxiliary and the main verb.

To prove this, Google books reports 18,100,000 results for never has been, whereas a mighty 186,000,000 results are produced for has never been construction.

Mari-Lou A

Posted 2014-01-17T16:58:38.077

Reputation: 19 962


EDIT 2: Best practice is to use never to separate your auxiliary "have" and your verb (in past participle) "been". Therefore, the best order is:

I have never been good at English.


I never have been good at English.

Is also possible.

Also take care not to use a double negative; that is to say "not" and "never" can't be used in conjunction with each other.

EDIT: After some comments have been made, and I reread the question, OP needs to consider this second option, since the phrase is confusing:

I've never had a good command/level of English

Referring to a possible misuse of Present Perfect. "A good English" is never correct. We can never use "an" with "English" since it's not quantifiable.

EDIT 3: Since OP's question contains a few errors and is a little difficult to understand, I've modified my answer. Given the errors in his question, I still recommend the first suggested word order since it's the most common, but I accept the second is equally valid.


Posted 2014-01-17T16:58:38.077

Reputation: 7 354


I don't think that's quite right. Whilst it's true I have never liked has always been more common than I never have liked, both forms are used, and are perfectly valid. The *requirement* is that never must come before either the auxillary *or* the main verb. That second possibility is still available even if the auxillary is present.

– FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2014-01-17T19:03:03.110

2There is a difference in connotation between the two forms, though... I never have liked X is more emphatic and would generally be used right after exposure to X, where I have never liked X can be a more neutral statement of preference. Also, you can stress Never in *I have never liked* to add emphasis, but you can't stress it in I never have liked. – Hellion – 2014-01-17T20:25:13.140

I agree with both your comments in most regards. However, since the phrase in question was fairly incorrect, I gave OP the general rule to apply. I appreciate there are also stress/emphatic reasons in play too, though I think my answer at least answers the question and covers the basics. – JMB – 2014-01-17T20:33:46.050

In English, we would never say "I never been have ..." We would say, "I never have been." Have definitely goes before the been. – Wally – 2014-01-17T20:37:09.700

1@Hellion: I don't disagree with anything you say there, but it doesn't alter the fact that the first sentence in this answer is still wrong. You do not need to put *never* between auxiliary "have" and the main verb - it can (as a valid stylistic variant) come before them both. I will admit I deliberately chose to graph *liked* in my supporting link, because it's much more common with that main verb than with many others. Probably because, as you say, it's likely to be said immediately after exposure to the "never liked thing" (or the thought of it, if it just arose in conversation) – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2014-01-18T01:14:07.450


I guess it's correct to say "I never have" when one expresses a short reply. E.G.

A: Have you ever eaten Thai food? B: I never have.

A: Have you already cooked lunch? B: Yes, I have already. Or Yes, I already have.

Guillermo Castillo de Martìnez

Posted 2014-01-17T16:58:38.077

Reputation: 1


I never been have a good English.

It's not right way to describe your skills on English. Even the words are not in correct order, If you want to express your skills on something, there is a simple structure to use:

Structure: I am good at _______ .

For example

I am good at English.
I am not good at English.

You can express the sentence, just correct the word orders.

I have never been good at English.
I never have been good at English.

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Posted 2014-01-17T16:58:38.077

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