We use now most commonly as an adverb of time. It means ‘at the present time’, ‘at this moment’ or ‘very soon’. We usually put now with this meaning in end position:
My father worked here and my brothers work here now.
I don’t want anything to eat now. I’ll have something later.
Can we go now?
In more formal styles, we can use now in mid position (between the subject and the main verb, or after the modal verb or first auxiliary verb, or after be as a main verb):
She used to work as a city economist; she now works as an adviser to the oil industry.
Laura Tranter is a young theatre director who is now in the middle of rehearsals for ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
We can premodify now. We use just now to talk about something that has happened recently and right now to talk about something that is either happening or is about to happen immediately:
I thought I saw her car here just now, going towards Dersingham’s house. (very recently)
‘I need to talk to you for a minute.’ She shook her head. ‘I’m sorry, but I’m pretty busy right now.’
I’ll phone her right now. (immediately)
We use now in speaking, to signal what is going to happen next. We often find this in a classroom or meeting when the speaker is giving instructions or information or looking ahead to the next point of discussion. This meaning of now is common in mid position or front position:
We’re now going to look at the exercise on page 10.
I’d now like to introduce the next speaker.
Now I think we should discuss the sales figures.
When now is in mid position, we often use it to express change as the result of something:
The business has become bigger and bigger. We now have offices in Japan, America and Belgium as well as the UK.
It is now clear that dinosaurs were supreme for 130 million years, and that mammals co-existed with them.
Now as a discourse marker
We use now in speaking to signal something new, particularly when giving instructions or introducing a new idea or topic. We often use it with other similar markers such as right or OK:
Now, before we start the actual meeting proper, I’ve invited Carol to come along and tell you about our recycling project.
[teacher in class]
Right. Now, I don’t want anyone to call out the answers. Okay? Listen.
Now for emphasis
We sometimes use now to make a command or order stronger. We use it before or after imperative clauses:
Now stop crying. It’s going to be OK.
Don’t lose them now. They’re my favourite gloves.
We can use nowthat as a conjunction to refer to something and its result(s):
Now that she had his attention, she couldn’t think of anything to say.
In informal speaking we can leave out that:
Now (that) the weather’s nice, the children play outside all day.