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Jamás

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Often you will find jamás coupled with the word nunca to mean never ever (nunca jamás). Like nunca it can mean never. But I saw another use of the word last week that I had not noticed before. Jamás can also mean ever. Ever? How can it be never and ever at the same time?

It depends on where the word is used in relation to other words that determines which meaning you should associate with it. If used with nunca or without being closely preceded by a superlative, you can probably guess that it means never.

How does the superlative affect jamás? If you have a phrase such as “the best golfer who ever played” it would be translated “el mejor golfista que jamás jugado.” In that case the jamás does not mean never, but ever.

Therefore, jamás usually means never, but when you see it with a superlative (most, or -est in English) then it probably means ever.

 

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