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Never give up (or in)

Posted by Smokey Stover on February 10, 2004

In Reply to: Never give up (or in) posted by SR on February 10, 2004

: : : :We were discussing a poster in one of our classrooms today.
: : : Which is correct, preferred and why?
: : : "Never, never give up!"
: : : or
: : : "Never, never, give up!"
: : : or
: : : "Never ever give up!"
: : : or
: : : "Never, ever give up!"
: : : Many thanks again.

: : It sounds like a Winston Churchill quote. I am away from my quote books so I am not sure if what I am posting here is exactly what he said. (See below.) Someone please correct me if I am wrong (and I am sure someone will).

: : Going back to your question, I believe it is correct to write:
: : Never, never give up. (one comma) and
: : Never, ever, give up. ("ever" inclosed in commas)

: : "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never, in nothing, great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense."

: : ECS- The problem I am having with "never, never give up!" is if I look at "never give up" as a command meaning never, at any time, give up, surrender etc., and then I add "never" to the command, as in "never, never give up!"... am I not then creating the double negative and telling them to give up? Is this overanalysis or simply awkward structure?

The comma, like the period, is a sign indicating vocal inflection. Obviously the comma preceding the second "never" represents a pause, which in this case will cause the reader or listener to interpret the second never as repetition for emphasis. Try writing (and reading) the sentence with the comma missing. Its meaning becomes, I believe, muddled. In my explanation, I use quotation marks for the same purpose, that is, to clarify in terms of vocal inflection the role of the word "never" in MY sentence, thus to avoid a further muddle. Am I wrong? SS