"Now" as an adverb of time is commonly used with present tense but can it also be used past tense?

Additionally, is the usage of "now" in the following sentence grammatically correct? Why or why not?

Our family helped us now.


3 Answers 3


You may hear "now" used in the past tense, for example, if the person is telling a story, and they are placing themselves in the past as part of their narrative. For example:

We found that we had fallen on hard times, but our friends helped us now, and with time things didn't seem so bad.

I'm not entirely sure this is correct usage (though it doesn't offend my ears, so to speak); it's quite a creative expression, and to me can be used to express a degree of emphasis ("now" is quite an 'urgent' word).

To dissociate from placing oneself in that moment as part of the narrative, you could replace "now" with something like "at this point", and to dissociate further you could say "at that point".


Now can be used as an interjection. See https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/357852/is-now-acting-as-an-interjection-rather-than-a-present-of-time.

Often times it's split from the sentence with a comma but this isn't a strict requirement.


Now is used to talk about the present time, thus if you won't use it, in a past sentence, to make some time comparison, it seems not to fit properly.

He should have sent the form until now

In your phrase, for example, since the family helped (in the past) this can't be happening now. Or they are helping right now or they have already done it.

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