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Jamais – How to say never in French

Jamais – How to say never in French

In today’s lesson we’ll have a close look at an essential French adverb which you can use in lots of sentences: jamais, which translates to “never”. We’ll look at how to use jamais in French negation as well as several other usages. Je ne comprends jamais ces leçons! I never understand these lessons!



French word-of-the-day lesson explaining how to use "jamais", meaning never, in French.

Jamais – never in French

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Word origin

According to, the Modern French adverb jamais (never) comes from Old French ja mais, meaning pas déjà (not already). Ja comes from jam or iam in Latin, meaning “already”.


The pronunciation of jamais (never) is: “zhah-may” or [ʒa-mɛ]. The phonetic /ʒ/ sounds like the -s in the English “pleasure”.

Example sentences

This first example sentence uses the form ne + verb + jamais, meaning “never + verb”. The most basic French negation rule is ne + verb + pas. For example, je ne mange pas (I don’t eat). This lesson on our site explains French negations in detail.

Je ne mange jamais le chou-fleur. Beurk !

I never eat cauliflower. Yuck!

For asking a “have you ever” questions, use: “Est-ce que vous avez (or tu as) déjà + past participle”. This lesson on our site covers déjà, which means already and ever.

Est-ce que tu as déjà mangé des cuisses de grenouille ? – Non, jamais !

Have you ever eaten frog legs? – No, never.

This example sentence uses the expression jamais de la vie, which can translate loosely to “as long as I live” or “never again”.

Jamais de la vie je ne travaillerai ici !

I will never work here as long I live!

For this next sentence, maintenant ou jamais means “now or never”. This post explains how to use maintenant in French.

Tout le monde t’attend ! C’est maintenant ou jamais !

Everybody is waiting for you. It’s now or never!

For this next example sentence, quaisiment jamais can translate to “almost never” or “hardly ever”.

Martin ne boit quasiment jamais.

Martin hardly ever drinks.

This final example sentence is a bit of a curve ball. We’re going to use both jamais (never) and rien (nothing, anything) in once sentence. This lesson on our site explains how to use rien.

Marie ne jette jamais rien.

Marie never throws anything away.

Example sentences using the French adverb jamais (never).


Et voilà ! Now you know how to use jamais in French. Now checkout our related lesson covering the adverb toujours (always).

Example of how to use "jamais" (never) in a sentence.
Je ne finirai jamais mon travail. I’ll never finish my work.

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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