alone for many months now [why 'now'?]

Schietti

Member
Portuguese - Brazil
The following sentence of Eat Pray Love:
"This is why I have been alone for many months now", intrigued me, because I believe "now" wouldn't be necessary since the author specified that something has been happing for months, that is, there is already a expression of time in the sentence. What is the function of this word in the sentence? Is there another word that could substitute it?
 
  • Assume the writer was writing on Jan 1, 2001. The months of aloneness are before that. "Now" is Jan 1, 2001. One could substitute "at present" with the understanding that the situation is in the past, but the person is within it, so it's 'now' or 'present' for them.

    Picture a person writing a diary. She might start each entry "Today, [I saw my mother, etc.]...", and that would mean the historical day.

    The same applies to 'now.'
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    "Now" doesn't really add anything to the meaning of the sentence, but it tends to emphasise the feeling that the speaker has, of looking back at what seems to him a long period of time.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    I don't think it has anything to do with "at present", in my opinion.

    If you pull the "now" forward as in A):
    A) Now this is why I have been alone for many months. (Use a Yiddish pronunciation/mindset. It's almost a causal factor.)
    B) This is why I have been alone for many months now.

    They sort of mean the same thing for me.

    So, I think it's more "emphasis", like velisarius says.
     

    akhooha

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I don't think that "now" is fulfilling any grammatical or syntactical function here; it's kind of a conversational filler that comes up often (e.g. "I'll be seeing you now") in common speech and I think the author probably threw it in to give the impression that the narrator is speaking to the reader.
    ...If you pull the "now" forward as in A):
    A) Now this is why I have been alone for many months. (Use a Yiddish pronunciation/mindset. It's almost a causal factor.)
    B) This is why I have been alone for many months now.
    They sort of mean the same thing for me.
    To me (A) sounds like an introduction to an explanation of why the narrator has been alone, while (B) sounds like the narrator is concluding his explanation for having been alone.
    P.S. I'm baffled by the reference to "a Yiddish pronunciation/mindset" --- can you explain what you mean?
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    I can just hear a Jewish person from Brooklyn placing the "now" at the beginning of the sentence. Not sure why.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    If I were to say "Now let me tell you (a little) something, Forero", do you see it differently?
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    If I were to say "Now let me tell you (a little) something, Forero", do you see it differently?
    Yes, in your example I would take now as an interjection. You could put a comma after it.

    I do not imagine now as an interjection in the original sentence.

    By the way, both examples are ordinary English sentences, and do not sound "Yiddish" to me. Do you suppose you can tell me what sort of intonation you are imagining with the original sentence?
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    Okay. I guess I see the "now" more as an interjection and of emphatic nature. No, you can't tell intonation from writing ... most of the time. :)
     
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