A website where it is possible to send messages to users uses the following message as confirmation that the message has been correctly sent:

The user will see the message immediately.

  • The message is shown in a list of messages visible in a specific page
  • Users are not alerted of messages sent them
  • The message is always the same, whenever the users getting the message are using the website, or not

I would understand immediately as without delay, but in this case it is not necessarily true as:

  • If the users are not using the website, they cannot immediately see the message
  • If the users are using the website, they could not be watching the right page, and read the new messages

What does immediately mean, in this case?
What is the difference between the used message, and "the message has been sent"?

  • 3
    I don't think this is anything to do with the word immediately. It's just sloppy use of user will see, when it means the information immediately becomes potentially available to be viewed (either on request, or because it happens to be a "live" update to a foreground window being watched at the time). Feb 26, 2013 at 2:07
  • Compare the different meanings of A.S.A.P., explained at PhD comic 1/18/2010: ASAP!
    – Stephen
    Feb 26, 2013 at 20:53
  • I concur with FumbleFingers, except that I believe it is also sloppy use of "immediately".
    – Mark G B
    Jul 6, 2021 at 4:05

3 Answers 3


"Immediately", in this case, appears to mean "immediately available", rather than "it will happen now". Clearly, as you say, the recipient may not be in a situation to see the message. However, as soon as the sender sends the message, the recipient WILL have the message to view.

As for "the message has been sent" versus "the user will see the message immediately", consider the case of a letter sent through the postal service. You have posted the letter, but it is not immediately available to the recipient. Obviously the transit time is much lower for electronic communication, but it's fairly certain that most readers here have experienced e-mail delays. The "immediately" appears to say that these sorts of delays won't happen.

(And User3169 is correct that ". . .the user will see. . ." is bad phrasing. I would put it as "the message will be immediately available to the recipient.")


You could say

The user will be able to see the message immediately.

This implies that the message can be seen if the user checks the appropriate location.
Also, "view" might be a better word choice instead of "see".


As FumbleFingers says in his comment, the issue here is not really the meaning of the word "immediately", but rather the phrasing of the entire sentence as compared to how this system works.

I presume that no matter how this system is constructed, if the recipient is not presently sitting at his computer, he will not "see the message immediately". Unless they have some technology that will ensure that no matter where the person is or what he is doing, like if he is watching television it will display the message on his TV screen, and if he is lying on the beach staring at the sky it will spell the message out in the clouds, and so on, I don't think they can give any assurance that he will see the message immediately.

Maybe possibly they mean that if he is logged into the system, no matter what screen he is on or what function he is using in this system, the message will pop up somewhere on the screen.

More likely they mean that the message is AVAILABLE immediately, if the user goes to the screen where messages are displayed.

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