2

I have been hearing the phrase "I've never been" with increasing frequency lately when referring to places (i.e., "I'd like to go to the Apollo. I've never been" as opposed to "I've never been there").

I recently moved to New York and am noticing this adverb omission among 20-somethings in the city, particularly college-educated women. But is this phrase right? It sounds strange to my ear to omit the adverb "there" from this phrase when referring to a place.

  • 1
    Ultimately this question (like many questions on the site) presupposes that there is a linguistically "right" kind of grammar. But the grammars that people have are all right linguistically, even if some people might think that they are not socially acceptable. See If the English language is always evolving, why do we need to learn and follow grammatical rules? for some discussion. – Alan Munn Aug 6 '15 at 16:30
  • I first heard "I've never been." when I went to college and met people from the New York metro area. It was not a feature of my local Philadelphia dialect; we say "I've never been there." It is not a locution particular to today's 20-somethings by any means. – TRomano Aug 6 '15 at 17:30
2

Been is the past participle of Be so I've never been is as grammatical as I'm not. The object is omitted as it is understood from context.

Q: "Are you in France now?" A: "No, I'm not, and I've never been."

Q: "Are you tall?" A: "No, I'm not, and I've never been."

In the most technical sense, I'm not sure whether omitting the object of a to be verb can be considered "grammatical", but it is, in any case, a commonly used and accepted manner of expression.

  • Your answer is quite correct for your examples but I think the OP is asking specifically about the peculiar use of "I've never been" instead of the expected "I've never been there " when someone is asked if they have ever been to or at a particular place. – Kristina Lopez Aug 6 '15 at 17:57
  • 1
    I tried to address that particular case with the first example. The spirit of my answer is that this is a general construction and there's no reason why it would be incorrect in the particular case the asker mentions, while being correct in other semantically similar cases. – Aurast Aug 6 '15 at 18:40
  • Isn't this usage also common in British English? – Noah Spurrier May 12 '17 at 16:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.