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Example: The police arrived and the police chief says: I want to know if there is anybody in the house at the moment!! or..at this moment?

  • More than one exclamation or question mark is an error. – Michael Harvey Jul 19 '19 at 16:42
  • I don´t get it Michael, what´s the error? I know I could say: "right now" but I would like to know if the sentence would mean exactly the same thing whether I use "At the moment" or "At this moment". Thanks. – claudio sepulveda Jul 19 '19 at 16:58
  • I suggest The police chief demands: "I want to know if there is anybody in the house!" Why does "at the moment" even need to be in the sentence? It doesn't mean any other time but now. Don't get confused by making sentences more complicated than they need be. – Weather Vane Jul 19 '19 at 17:06
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I think the main difference is emphasis.

In the example sentence, exchanging 'at the moment' for 'at this moment' will shift the emphasis to the time, 'THIS moment', making it a more important part of the message that he wants to know if there's someone in right now. I'd actually rephrase the sentence to 'right now!' instead of 'at the/this moment!', it gives more energy to the message in my opinion.

  • There could be an ambiguity: does the officer want to know right now? Can he wait 5 minutes so someone can go and check out the house? – Weather Vane Jul 19 '19 at 16:56
  • @weather vane: good point... – mdmaarschalk Jul 19 '19 at 17:18
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"At this moment" is an idiom, at least in the U.S., which is an emphatic way to say "now." It is a bit formal, and perhaps the answer saying that "right now" is even more emphatic is correct.

"At the moment" is a grammatical construction and, in certain cases, an appropriate and idiomatic one, but it is seldom if ever used as a synonym for "now," at least not in the U.S. Thus, in this context, "at the moment" does not fit.

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Example: The police arrived and the police chief says: I want to know if there is anybody in the house at the moment!! or..at this moment?

at the moment = now = right now

Generally, in speech, we'd use at the moment in your sentence.

It sounds more idiomatic. At this moment, though, is not a mistake. A native speaker just would not use it here.

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