Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Grammar Lesson 20

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English - Blind Pig and The Acorn

According to The Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English people in my area use the word never in two ways which differ from the traditional use of the word.


1. Never replaces a past-tense verb referring to a single event. Correct usage: “I didn’t see Scott and Seth at the festival.” Incorrect usage: “I never seen Scott and Seth at the festival.”

2. Never is followed by did and the infinitive of a verb. Correct usage: “I have never been to a place that was so lonesome and sad.” Incorrect usage: “I never did go to a place that was so lonesome and sad.”

I totally agree with the Dictionary, because I use never in exactly the way it claims. But what I’m a little doubtful about is whether or not my usage is all that different from other areas of the US. So leave me a comment and tell me how you never.



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  • Reply
    March 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm


  • Reply
    January 28, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    How about “never once”? “She never once told me she liked my hat.”

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    January 28, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    I knew we had a heavy accent but I never thought my hunting buddies and I would hear it so far from home . About 15 years ago we went in the Walmart along I 40 in Amarillo and we thought the greeter had emigrated to Texas from far east Tennessee.
    Larry Proffitt

  • Reply
    January 28, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    One of my mother’s favorite expressions was “Well, I NEVER!”

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 28, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    When my nephew was small, a long time ago, we lived in a small town in WNC that had garbage pick up. My uncle brought the boy a very big box home to play with. By big I mean refridgerator size. He had great fun with that big box but after a couple of weeks we got tired of that big box in the yard. So, on the day of garbage pick up I slipped out early and dragged the big box around where the gargage was waiting for pick up, thinking that the truck would come before the child saw it.
    I was wrong. My nephew came around the house just in time to see his box go into their big truck
    Now here comes the point of this story…..he was very upset seeing his box removed. He stood there in the yard shaking his head back and forth and said…..”never, no, never, dam garbageman took my box!!!”
    I’ve never heard anything funnier.

  • Reply
    January 28, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Everyone in my area uses never in just the same way! Must be all through Appalachia.

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    January 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I never realized until now how I use the word never. I thought of something I say often. I never got to go. Instead of saying I didn’ t go.

  • Reply
    January 28, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Mike-I think Im guilty of the whenever usage too : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    January 28, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    “I hain’t never made corn likker but I’ve knowed two-three people that has..

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    January 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I never did hear of setch!…Most of my nevers are follered by did…I would put it in front, a’liken to “I did never hear of such”, but that confuses even my “bassackerds” way of speakin’.
    “Did I never or I never did!”
    Soooo, that there would seem like I heared such or not so much?
    Like “Ima Hoot” maybe we should just leave off never, altogether.
    Mountain folks really never saw a never they couldn’t climb…they just went about their business and did it…
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    January 28, 2013 at 11:31 am

    I have heard both uses of never all over the place. If you substitute, “I never saw them at the fair” for “I never seen them at the fair”, I don’t see anything wrong with that usage and I hear it everywhere.
    I have a friend from West Virginia who is in the habit of saying, “Whenever I was 12 years old…”, or “Whenever I lived in Georgia…”. In my mind, I use whenever to talk about a habit or repeated occurrence like, “Whenever I go to the grocery, I buy cornbread mix…”, or “Whenever we travel, we stop at Cracker Barrel…” and I use “when” to talk about a point in time, like “When I was 12 years old…” or “When I lived in Georgia”
    Any thoughts?

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    January 28, 2013 at 10:09 am

    I use never in both of the “incorrect” ways!

  • Reply
    January 28, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Are you sure your usage of the word ain’t the right way?

  • Reply
    January 28, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Only difference is I would say, “I never saw” instead of “I never seen”. Surely everyone in the great USA has said, at one time or another, “I never saw it coming”.

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    January 28, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Guilty as charged! It is still one of the common colloquialisms in the Ozarks too.

  • Reply
    January 28, 2013 at 8:34 am

    I use never as an adverb in a sentence. Sometimes, depending on the type of verb, I might also use what we call a helping verb – have, has, had. The English language can be somewhat tough to navagate, espeically for someone learning it from their native language. I can see how learning English for an adult can be difficult.

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    January 28, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Yes, “never” gets used out here on the edge of the plains just like in your examples, so it’s definitely not limited to just Appalachia.

  • Reply
    January 28, 2013 at 8:16 am

    I use never the same way you do, Tipper. Most people here in Louisiana do. I think it may be more of a country thing than a regional one.

  • Reply
    January 28, 2013 at 7:55 am

    I had to say these out loud a couple of times to be sure. The first one, yes; the second one, I never did hear. (reporting from the frosty North)

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 28, 2013 at 7:44 am

    Tipper–To revert to an old country classic from Webb Pierce, and thereby likely reveal my years, “I ain’t never, no never, seen nobody like you.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    January 28, 2013 at 7:33 am

    Usually in our Appalachian parlance in Choestoe where I grew up, we would say, for example:
    “I never did like the chore of pulling weeds out of the garden, but had to do it or our vegetables would never produce.”
    It seems we followed never–in explaining our negative action–with did–or another verb, sometimes mispronounced:
    “I’d never heard (pronounced as though it had double rr’s: hearrd) that tale told like Cecil could tell it!”

  • Reply
    Heyword Smith
    January 28, 2013 at 7:22 am

    Would “I never saw Scott and Seth at the festival” be correct? Or “I never went to a place that was so lonesome and sad.”
    I don’t think your use of never in either phrase is incorrect although other words might be questionable. But, if your choice of words conveys your thoughts to the other person, how can it be considered incorrect?

  • Reply
    January 28, 2013 at 7:05 am

    I use it that way too. Just never thought about it before reading your post. So talking here in east Texas is alot like it is there.

  • Reply
    Tim Hassell
    January 28, 2013 at 6:56 am

    If it hadn’t been for this grammar lesson I never would’ve knowed the dif’ernce. I ain’t sure I do yet. But Thanks for tryin’ to educate me anyhow.

  • Reply
    Ima Hoot
    January 28, 2013 at 6:54 am

    I was taught never to say never, so I never have and never will!

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    January 28, 2013 at 6:37 am

    I “never did” thing about using it any other way…

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    Sheryl Ormond Paul
    January 28, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Don’t forget; Well, I never!
    I guess here in FL we /I use the work exactly the same way you do.
    But, I am a ‘true’ Floridian, not a transplant….they sure do talk funny.

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