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    #1

    Usage of now, today etc

    I want your advice on this. Please help me.

    If I was writing a novel and I wanted to keep it in the past tense, would it be OK to use the words like now, today, yesterday, last night? I know they should not be used in reported speech.

    Sam had a blast with his friends at the pub. He drank a lot and reached home late. When he woke up he realized he had a hang-over. He felt bad that he had drunk so much last night.

    Is the usage of last night fine here?


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    #2

    Re: Usage of now, today etc

    You can use those phrases in dialogue.

    "I felt really bad about how much I drank last night," said Steve. "Now I have a hangover, and I have important things to do today."

    In prose, you might use some different wording to create narrative distance.

    Sam had a blast with his friends at the pub. He drank a lot and reached home late. When he woke up the next morning, he realized he had a hang-over. He felt bad that he had drunk so much the previous night (or 'the night before').

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    #3

    Re: Usage of now, today etc

    Thanks a lot, nonsense.

    But I have encountered those words being used in narratives. I'll post them here when I run into such usages again.

    Please have a look at the following sentence.

    There was no better time than now to go ahead and tell her that I loved her.

    If I had to choose a different wording here, I could probably rephrase it as:

    There was no better time than then to go ahead and tell her that I loved her.

    This doesn't sound very natural to me. Am I wrong in thinking so?

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    #4

    Re: Usage of now, today etc

    Quote Originally Posted by daemon99 View Post
    Thanks a lot, nonsense.

    But I have encountered those words being used in narratives. I'll post them here when I run into such usages again.

    Please have a look at the following sentence.

    There was no better time than now to go ahead and tell her that I loved her.

    If I had to choose a different wording here, I could probably rephrase it as:

    There was no better time than then to go ahead and tell her that I loved her.

    This doesn't sound very natural to me. Am I wrong in thinking so?
    'Now' is a very flexible word which, perhaps quite contrary to expectation, can occur with past tenses, with the meaning 'at this/that moment', e.g.

    I had the long-sought document in my hand. Now I knew that everything would be all right!

    'Then', on the other hand, quite apart from sounding less "dramatic", would probably also be understood with the different meaning of 'subsequently/in the next moment'.


    Philo


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    #5

    Re: Usage of now, today etc

    As Philo says, "now" is very flexible that way. The other terms might not be.

    If you say, "Today I knew that everything would be all right," then we must assume that the writer is writing this on the day that he was talking about, and that "today" actually means "this morning" or sometime earlier in the day. Otherwise, past tense would not make sense. This sort of language also greatly reduces the sense of narrative distance.

    I also noticed that your example is in the first person. I might be less likely to use "now" with the third person to keep a consistent sense of narrative distance. You could say: "There was no better time than now to go ahead and tell her that he loved her." But it feels just slightly inconsistent. You could just as well say, "There was no better time than this to tell her that he loved her." Or "There was no better time to tell her that he loved her." Or "He knew there would be no better time to tell her that he loved her."

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    #6

    Re: Usage of now, today etc

    Thanks a lot, nonsense and philo2009!

    There was no better time than this to tell her that he loved her

    Is it OK to use this in the narratives? Can you please tell me what other words have the flexibility like now?

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    #7

    Re: Usage of now, today etc

    Quote Originally Posted by daemon99 View Post
    Thanks a lot, nonsense and philo2009!

    There was no better time than this to tell her that he loved her

    Is it OK to use this in the narratives? Can you please tell me what other words have the flexibility like now?
    'This' differs from 'that' in terms of referential possibility in that it can be both anaphoric (referring back to something already mentioned) and cataphoric (referring forward to something about to be mentioned), while 'that' is exclusively anaphoric. That could be regarded as one type of 'flexibility'.

    As regards reference to past events, however, both are equally possible. 'This', however, because of its inherently proximal sense, tends to make the event sound more closely connected with the speaker/subject than would 'that', hence its use in your cited passage.

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