What happens now?

VicNicSor

Senior Member
Russian
#1
A man gets killed and his soul ends up being in some dark place. He asks where he is, and then God appears in the shape of a light beam:
God: Purgatory.
Man: Where's that?
God: Between Heaven and Hell.
Man: What happens now?
Switch, film

Does the boldfaced question indicate futurity?
Thank you.
 

Myridon

Senior Member
English - US
#4
But it should be either one or another.
I think if it were about the present it would have been "What's happening now?":confused:
He knows what is happening - he's talking to God - and it started in the past. He wants to know what is going to happen starting now. What happens next?
 

dojibear

Senior Member
English - Northeast US
#6
Would this make more sense to you? "What happens next?" instead of "What happens now?"

In AE, the two questions have the same meaning: they ask what is about to happen after I ask.

Time is constantly moving, so "now" is already in the past by the time you complete the question. If anything is going to happen after the question, it is in the near future at the exact moment when the question is asked. So "now" questions are not about an exact moment in time.
 

dojibear

Senior Member
English - Northeast US
#8
Note that "happens" often means "will happen". For example:

Joe: Everything is fine until next Friday.
Sam: Why? What happens Friday?

Clearly Sam means "What will happen on Friday?"
 

Myridon

Senior Member
English - US
#9
But it's a different meaning of "now", it's not the present
It's never the present. The White Queen says Alice can have jam every other day, but "The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day." ;) If you don't already have jam, you I can't give you jam now because it will be the future by the time I can give it to you.
 
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