What adverb can mean both "soon" and
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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.
I believe the archaic "anon" would also work. True?
[You're right; thus, the question has two answers]
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.
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.)
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