Negatives - never and not

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Do not use never when you mean not. Here is a place where academic English is far more controlled than ordinary casual speech.

In Britain, at any rate, and in the North of England particularly, the word 'never' is often used to give emphasis to a negative. "I never did!" is a remark which can be made by a schoolchild, for example, to mean "I have not done that - today - yet."

Academics expect never to have its dictionary meaning, basically "At no time, on no occasion." When you say 'never' in academic writing, you are saying that the thing you are talking about has not existed once in the whole of time, or at least of human history. This is a large claim. It is usually more accurate - as well as easier, because it has two letters fewer - to use not.

AWE would advise anyone teaching English not to say never when discussing English idiom - and perhaps also to avoid always. There are too many exceptions in English to any rule to allow one to make many absolute statements.