Now now!

Now Now!

I’ve noticed that there are several ways to say now in Russian. In some contexts you use сейчас (sejchas), and in others теперь (teper’), but I haven’t worked out when to use each one yet. So I thought I’d investigate.

Сейчас means now, just now or (only) just [source]. For example:

  • Он сейчас работает = He’s working just now
  • Сейчас приду = I’m just on my way
  • Сейчас же! = Right now!
  • прямо сейчас = right now
  • Я действительно хочу заняться чаем сейчас = I’d really like to get some of that tea now

Сейчас comes from сей (this) & час (hour, o’clock, time, time of day) [source].

Сей also appears in сегодня (sevódnja — today).

Часы (chasy) = watch or clock.

Теперь means now or nowadays [source]. For example:

  • Теперь обсудим следущий вопрос = Let us now move on to the next question
  • А теперь мне пора представить вам участников = And now it’s time for me to introduce to you our contestants
  • И теперь начнем нашу совместную жизнь = So, now we’re going to start a life together

From these examples, I’m guessing that сейчас is more immediate than теперь. Is that right?

There are other ways to say now in Russian it seems:

  • в настоящее время = now, currently, at present
  • к настоящему времени = by now
  • время от времени = now and then or again
  • впредь = from now on
  • до сих пор = until now
  • пока всё = that’s all for now

Теперь comes from the Old East Slavic топере (topere), and is apparently used in contrast with the past [source].

Welsh also has several words for now [source]:

  • nawr = now; shortly, presently (South Wales)
  • rŵan = now; shortly, presently (North Wales)
  • bellach = any more, henceforth, from now on, again; now, by this time, in the end; moreover
  • ar hyn o bryd = now, at this (point in) time, at the present moment, at this juncture
  • erbyn hyn = by this time, by now
  • yn awr = now, forthwith
  • awron = now, at present, at the present time, nowadays, by this time

Do other languages have several ways to express the idea of now?

Так, пока всё, пока пока (So that’s all for now, bye bye)

6 thoughts on “Now now!

  1. More succinctly, сейчас means “now (in the current moment)” and теперь means “now (as opposed to in the past)”. It’s mainly a difference of emphasis.

    By itself, “Сейчас!” also means “Hold on!”, “Wait a moment!” It’s a very grumpy-teenager-to-parent sort of thing to say.

  2. First, a tiny correction: часах is the plural of час in the prepositional case. The noun часы, which means “a clock” is identical to the plural of час (“an hour”).

    Now, a comment about modern Hebrew. It has a word that is similar to теперь: עתה (atá). It is somewhat literary: frequently used in written language, but rarely in casual spoken language. It means “now (as opposed to some previous time)”. It is also used in the expression זה עתה (ze atá), which means “very recently, monents ago” (it often appears in news updates, describing breaking news).

    Another word for “now” in modern Hebrew is עכשיו (akhsháv). This one is similar to the Russian сейчас. It is common in all registers.

    Curiously, עתה is the Biblical word and עכשיו is the Mishnaic one. The sense distinction probably arose in the modern language.

    (Russian is my first native language. Hebrew is my second language, and the one I frequently use in my current life in Israel. I also studied Hebrew academically.)

  3. Latvian:
    tagad = now
    šobrīd = at this moment; currently
    nu = particle or interjective with multiple uses; similar to ‘now’ when used as a filler in English; “Ko nu?” = “What now?”

  4. A colloquial short form of сейчас is щас. However, out of your examples for сейчас, the short form fits only the first, second and fourth. I don’t know why.

  5. I don’t know much about Welsh, but is it just by chance that rŵan is nawr written backwards?

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