Jul 23, 2012

Grammar Hammer: Is It Presently or Currently Storming?

Storms have been tearing through the U.S. in recent weeks, causing severe power outages, frenzied hoarding trips to the grocery store, paranoid people staying home from work, excessive online shopping for rain boots, and an unreasonable number of check-ins with the weathermen.

When the clouds start rolling in, do you say it’s currently or presently storming? Well, it depends what you mean. So before you start battening down the hatches and squirreling away your freeze-dried food and batteries, consider the subtle difference in meaning between these two adverbs, according to Merriam-Webster.com:

  • Presently: before long
  • Currently: occurring or existing in the present time

Confusingly, presently doesn’t mean “at present,” it means “in the near future.” Only currently refers to “right now.”

Examples:

  • The wind’s picking up; it will storm presently.
  • There is currently thunder and lightning.

Pro Tip: Replace “presently” with “soon” to double check grammaticality and correctness.

So if it’s currently thundery outside, you’ll need an umbrella presently!

Written by Grace Lavigne (@GnightGracie1111), senior editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. Grammar Hammer is published weekly on ProfNet Connect, a free social networking site for communicators. To read more from Grace, check out her blog.

Image courtesy of Flickr user zuzkins.

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