at any given moment

Mr Bones

Senior Member
España - Español
Hello, I'd like to know what's the exact meaning of this expression. Can you help me?

His penance was a continual work in progress, and the punishments he meted out to himself changed according to what he felt were his greatest deficiencies at any given moment (Paul Auster, The Book of Illusions).

Many thanks, Mr Bones.
 
  • ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    taking each moment separately, viewing each moment as a different time period in which different things can happen.

    In the passage you refer to, it means that he changed his punishments according to what he thought his greatest deficiencies were at that particular moment. The next moment he could change his mind.

    It is also used with the meaning of more or less "always", to give emphasis to the fact that no matter what the circumstances things remain unchanged
     

    Mr Bones

    Senior Member
    España - Español
    Thank you very much. I'm still a bit confused, though, because it seems to me as if it could mean two different and opposite things at the same time: a very concrete moment, on one hand, and always, on the other. Is it this way? Bones.
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    hi, my mistake I am afraid. I will try to explain a bit better

    It basically means one thing: What river said, at any one time.
    Look at these examples

    1. He was yelling, laughing, being silent, according to his mood at any given moment.

    2. You can visit the site and ask for help at any given moment.

    Now in both cases, "at any given moment" means at any one time.

    Since the first phrase refers to 'changes', it means that according to how he felt at each moment his mood changed

    The second phrase means that whenever you want you can visit the site and ask for help.

    -----------

    So, at any given moment means = moment 1, moment 2, moment 3 etc

    In phrase 1, things may change in moment 3 or maybe moment 1002. So, at any given moment things may change.

    In phrase 2 things will be the same in moment 1 and in moment 1000000000. So, at any given moment things will remain the same

    I hope that helps
     

    Mr Bones

    Senior Member
    España - Español
    It's completely clear now. Thank you very much for such a thorough answer, ireney. Regards, Mr Bones.
     
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