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Imagine this scenario: You are having a conversation with someone about a tropical fruit which you have seen the picture of (on the internet or something) and do know the name of; but you have never seen or touched it in your hand or in a fruit market.

He: "What do you think of the papaya?"

You : "Oh... ?".

  • oh, I've never seen it before
  • oh, I've never seen it closely
  • oh, I've never had it before

Which clearest answer emphasizing on just you have never seen in front of you(or touched) would be okay in this situation?

  • Oh, I didn't actually see one. – Graffito Jan 6 '16 at 20:00
  • Does it inform that you also are familiar with that, indeed? – Mehdi Raash Jan 6 '16 at 20:06
  • Saying that implies that you know about it. – Graffito Jan 6 '16 at 20:17
  • I would say I've only ever seen a picture of one, so I don't know much about them. – WS2 Jan 6 '16 at 20:20
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    "I've never seen one in person" (I know this is idiomatic but in the US, that is a common way to convey that you haven't seen something close-up) – Kristina Lopez Jan 6 '16 at 20:42
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I'd say: "I've never seen one up-close."

[ADVERB] At very close range.

‘he was able to experience glaciers calving up-close’

(Oxford)

It's worth noting that the ODO entry doesn't list any synonyms.

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