That's a good point. Не хватать is a staple combination to express that you lack something or do not have enough. Also, "always"/"never" are fairly open to interpretation.
Usually what happens when you have consistent negation (in Russian) is that you replace English any-words with Russian ни-words. I think this is why the choice of всегда/никогда is not automatic for negative sentences. Sometimes you can use both, like in this sentence (всегда sounds a bit stronger).
- you can, by the way, use постоянно ("constantly, always") and avoid this problem altogether.
- if you have other "variables" you should decide whether you use the positive or negative sentence structure. It will either be "Никому никогда не хватает времени" or "Всем всегда не хватает времени".
In this particular situation "lack" is a singular, established meaning. Statistically, всегда is about two or three times more common with не хватает and не хватало. Both are possible, though. Now, what happens if you use this substitution in "I never eat them"?
- Я никогда их не ем. = I never eat them. (neutral and fairly generic)
- Я всегда их не ем. = I always do not eat them (like, literally every single moment—or you are habitually presented with the choice and make the decision to not eat them every time).
I wonder how flexible English is in this regard. Are "Do you always have no visitors?" and "Do you never have visitors?" both possible?
Thank you for this extensive detail. I would "almost never" :) say "Do you always have no visitors?" Also, "Do you never have visitors?" has a subtle connotation of surprise, predicated on some other part of the conversation, whereas something like "Do you ever have visitors?" is more agnostic and more clearly implies that i don't know.
So, I see хватать is imperfective, and схватить is perfective ---- if we wanted to say, "to seize, grasp." And then there's the second use of хватать (imperfective), with its perfective, of хватить, which has the meaning we're using here, "to suffice, to be enough."
So do I have usage correct if I said, Я хватаю эту книгу, to mean, I am grabbing this book (regular subject / verb / accusative), and Мне хватает этой книги (dative / verb / genitive), to mean, This book is enough for me?
And also ---- in these "sufficient" phrasings with the dative, хватать will always take the impersonal хватает form, no matter what number or person the sufficient thing is, right? So would it be, Мне хватает тебя (and not мне хватаешь тебя for, you are sufficient for me), and Мне хватает книг и диванов (and not мне хватают книг и диванов for, books and couches are sufficient for me), correct?
No. Хватать is used impersonally (without a subject) to say that something is sufficient. Хватает: it is enough. Мне хватает: it is enough for me. The thing that there is enough of goes in the genitive. Мне хватает времени: there is enough (of) time for me. Я хватаю means 'I grasp/grab'.
Maybe. It is a part of the predicate here. Usually, whenever you mean "lack", хватать attaches Genitive nouns.
Certain structures with numerals may break this rule if you wish so, i.e. use the Nominative form of a numeral (e.g., "Пятьсот рублей хватит?" , "Человек десять хватило бы")
There are suggestions that хватать has a subject, just does not agree with it. :)