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Here is my question: when you want to describe an event which happened in the past, and when you finish talking about the past then you bring the reader to the current event using "fast-forward". How to use these two words in a sentence properly? I've seen some articles using this method to compare two events but I can't find them now.

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First, even though these are related concepts, I don’t think we normally encounter these two words and phrases together.

Let’s start with the expression “fast forward”. We often see this when a writer has been talking about something that happened in the past, in order to set the context and make a point about the current situation. When this happens, a common expression is used as a transition, and it’s often worded something like:

  • Fast forward to now.
  • Fast forward to the present.

Here are a few examples excerpted from blogs and news articles:

Back in the day, the logistical stresses and strains of a break-up involved divvying up the CD/DVD collection. Fast forward to the present day and it's all about who's getting signed out of the family Netflix account.

Notice how, in that example, there’s a so-called flashback, but the word flashback isn’t used. Instead, the writer uses, “Back in the day” to refer to an era from a couple decades ago.


In this example, a writer is talking about someone’s early career – about how it got off to a great start but took a turn for the worse:

Local artist Casey Jex Smith has been around the block. His career got off to a great start as he earned gallery representation in the Bay Area and New York, found an audience, and was well on his way to "making it" in the highly competitive, and fickle, world of contemporary art.

But then the Great Recession hit. He lost his agents and galleries were closing left and right. He'd also moved to Ohio with his wife, who is also an artist, and his young family. Opportunities, once rife, were disappearing.

Fast forward to the present and Smith, along with his wife, have not only recalibrated their careers, they have also just launched Unibrow, the first-ever online art auction site run by, and for, contemporary artists.

Again, the phrase is used to bring the reader away from the historical account and into the present day.


Here is one by a sportswriter:

Last year at this time, I wrote about the Chicago Blackhawks’ wish list. It included shot suppression, an NHL-caliber defense, forward line chemistry, and Santa Crow bringing goalie wins to all good boys and girls. Fast forward to the present and they’re still wishing for the same things.

This time, the author uses “last year at this time” to introduce the flashback, and then uses “fast forward to the present” to indicate the discussion is about to transition into the present day.


So, to answer your question, the word “flashback” isn’t generally used; however, there is some phrase to alert the reader how we are talking about something that happened in the past (such as, “Back in the day,” or, “Last year at this time,” or even, “But then the Great Recession hit”). When the author has concluded that background story, the narrative is eventually followed up with a transition phrase, such as: “Fast forward to what’s happening now.”

One more example, from an investment column:

During the last week of April, P&G was still trending lower while RSI began making higher lows. This divergence was the first signal that the price downtrend was weakening. That was definitely time to close any short positions. The confirming signal that all shorts should be covered occurred on April 27, when Procter & Gamble closed at $59.83 (the high of the day), and the 10-day moving average was moving up. Let's fast-forward to what's happening with P&G now.

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  • That's more than I expected and learned a lot of new expressions. – Carlos Florian Jan 8 '19 at 14:47
  • @CarlosF - The answer wasn’t short because you asked a very good question. – J.R. Jan 8 '19 at 18:05

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