I am learning English! There's something that I don't understand. May I know the usage of 'by now'?

In the sentence:

By now he'd be an old man

... does 'by now' emphasize the time?

  • 2
    It means if he had lived from then (in the past) til now, he'd be old. Meaning he died a long time ago. – Dan Bron Feb 21 '17 at 12:43
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    See also: english.stackexchange.com/questions/67145/… – michael.hor257k Feb 21 '17 at 12:52
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    @Dan Bron It could be a reference to someone whom you hadn't seen for many years and, if he were still alive, would now be an old man. I don't agree that it means he's dead. – Ronald Sole Feb 21 '17 at 13:05
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    What @Ronald Sole said. If the speaker knew the person he was talking about was definitely dead already, he'd more likely say By now he'd've / he would have been an old man (if he hadn't died). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 21 '17 at 14:09
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    Kinzle B: 'by' isn't grammatically necessary (per @jacksmith's answer, 'by' simply emphasises the change over time). But idiomatically I think it would be rather unusual to omit it in such a statement starting with the adverbial clause (but not if you put it at the end - there's nothing particularly unusual about He'd be an old man now). I think maybe that's just because it's easier and more natural to stress now at the end of an utterance like that, but perhaps it's just meaningless "established idiomatic preference". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 21 '17 at 17:07

"By now" emphasizes the change in time between a past point and the present. In your example "by now he'd be an old man" we are emphasizing a long span of time between our connection with the person and their current state.

  • Sure thing, have I answered your question? – jacksmith Feb 21 '17 at 13:56

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