Never turned up

“Early last week, my friend John promised to visit me on Friday, but he never showed up.”

Should it be “…but he didn’t show up.” instead, because it is only one occasion that he did not show up? “never” implies forever never turning up.

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The sentence is fine as it is because “never showed up” refers to the fact that he has been absent until now. “Never” can refer to the past as well as the future.

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Both are OK, but I think “didn’t show up” is somewhat better than “never showed up”.

Never turned up” or “turned up” is more commonly used for something or someone that you have been actively searching for or waiting for.

If you are waiting for someone for a long time and have given up, then they suddenly “turn up” unexpectedly.

If you have been looking for your watch for the last week and never found it you might say it “never turned up”.

Never turned up” can substitute for “never showed up” and vice versa, but “turned up” is more commonly used for something you’ve been actively searching for or waiting for.

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I’d prefer it this way: Early last week, my friend John promised to visit me on Friday, but he didn’t turn up. I don’t think show up is as polite and formal as turn up.

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I think our speaker is a bit irked at his friend John, and “he never showed up” using the word “never” expresses that.
He could also say “he didn’t show up at all”.
I think the speaker is a little less irked if he uses “he didn’t show up”.
“But he didn’t come” I think would be a little more neutral still.

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I think our speaker is probably upset that his friend not only didn’t show up, but didn’t call or text him.

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