MooT Question Icon
What adverb can mean both "soon" and "now"?




Etymology, Etymology, and more Etymology
as well as grammar, usage, euphemism, slang, jargon, semantics, linguistics, neologism, idiom, cant, and argot.


A picture of a moot game

The critically-acclaimed board game MooT
consists of tough questions about the nuances of the English language.
To join our mailing list and get
free brain-twisting MooT questions sent to you irregularly,
enter your email address and then press submit.

E-Mail address:




Back to home page



Answer: presently

According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, the statement "the waiter announced that he would be seating us presently" means you will be seated immediately in the US; however, in England it means that you will be seated after a short time.

Feedback


I believe the archaic "anon" would also work. True? [You're right; thus, the question has two answers]
pechols_greshamlaw.com Oregon)
______________________________________________________________

I suppose you mean `presently'; but the use of 'presently' for 'at present' is comparatively recent. Many careful writers, including myself, think this usage slovenly and ambiguous and make a point of avoiding it. What's wrong with "at present", or "currently"? For my generation, the word continues to mean "fairly soon", implying some moderate delay. In Shakespeare's time and for quite a time thereafter, it meant "immediately", implying no delay.
Tom Braun Oxford)
______________________________________________________________

In response to your previous question "What adverb can mean both 'soon' and 'now'?": Everyone seems to have missed a most obvious answer, which is the word "now" itself. Check it out, using this simple proof: It can be used with a future tense to mean "shortly" ("Do you want anything at the store? I am going to go there now."). The problem is that we have a pretty elastic notion of what constitutes the present. "Now," in fact, can even refer to the immediate past (as in "I just finished it now"). For that matter, it can, albeit only in the idiom "now and then," refer to habitual time ("I write e-mail now and then"). Truly a word for all seasons.
Jack Ognistoff Vancouver, B.C.)
______________________________________________________________

Copyright 1998-2009 Blair Arts Ltd. All rights reserved.