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What’s Wrong With Nowadays? Posted by on Dec 9, 2021 in English Language

Image by Dmitry Abramov from Pixabay

There are English words that, the moment I see them, I want to scream my head off. We have adopted some words from everyday conversation and made them such common expressions that many have forgotten how unsophisticated they sound. One such word is nowadays, and I have begun to see it in writing a lot. If you use it in writing, I am here to beg you to stop.

Meaning and Spelling

First, let’s begin by defining the word and how it is properly spelled and used. Nowadays is an adverb that means “currently” or “at the present time”. We use it in comparison with the past. Its use goes as far back as the 14th century when it was a three-word phrase spelled as now a dayes. It is now always spelled as one word – nowadays. It isn’t ever hyphenated.

It is also a word typically used in casual conversation. “Everybody ditched their vinyl records for compact discs back in the 90s, but nowadays it seems like everyone wants vinyl again.” And in conversation is exactly where nowadays belongs.

Properly speaking, nowadays isn’t slang. You can find it in the dictionary and there’s even a proper rule for it. If used at the beginning of a sentence you must follow the word with a comma – “Nowadays, you can’t find a parking space on a city street.”

It is also, however, a very informal word.

Let’s Try Something Else, Shall We?

The reason that I cringe every time I read the word nowadays is that we need to understand the difference between formal and informal writing. If you are writing in social media, or in a text, casual writing is fine. But too often we are blurring the boundaries between what is colloquial and what is stylistically proper. We are losing something precious in our culture if we can’t make that distinction.

It’s perfectly fine to have your own voice when writing, but you should know that people form opinions of you from your style. If you are making a serious point in an essay, or even in an email to a friend or colleague, you want to make that point eloquently and with force. To use an informal word diminishes your language’s power.

Good writers struggle to find the exact word that will convey their meaning. And, no, not everything you write needs such scrutiny. You’re not expected to be Hemingway. Still, if you find yourself writing about something that you want to be taken seriously, look for some word other than the one that you would use in a casual conversation with a sibling or old friend.

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About the Author: Gary Locke

Gary is a semi-professional hyphenate.


Comments:

  1. Adelaide Dupont:

    Do people use NOW or RIGHT NOW when it comes to the vinyl sentence [or sentences like that]?

    We really do seem to be the five people we have casual conversations with…

    • Gary Locke:

      @Adelaide Dupont Hi Adelaide,
      Speaking as an editor, I would probably change the sentence to read, “Everybody ditched their vinyl records for compact discs back in the 90s, but today it seems like everyone wants vinyl again.” However, substituting “now” for nowadays would be perfectly acceptable.
      Cheers!
      Gary


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