In an article I want to say:

At the present time, there are web data extraction systems that provide an interactive graphical users interfaces(GUI) for the user to define and execute a wrapper.

However, I am afraid it is not natural or formal, I think of some other phrases like

  • Currently
  • Today
  • Nowadays
  • ...

What is the best word to fit my sentence? Can I use "currently"?

2 Answers 2


All of these express the same sense of "nowness", but there are slight differences between the contexts in which they are typically used.

  • Today, now and nowadays tend to suggest that what is true now was not true in the past.

  • Currently and at present tend to suggest that what is true now may not be true in the future.

  • Nowadays is colloquial, unlikely to be used in formal writing.

  • At the present time is formal to the point of pomposity; I cannot conceive of any context in which at the present time should be preferred to one of the other expressions.

If you do not intend to express a contrast between the present and either the past or the future, there is no need to use any of these; the present-tense expresses "nowness" all by itself.


There's nothing informal (as I see it) about "At the present time". In fact, I'd argue that it's more formal than the the other three options you present.

"Currently" and "today" are acceptable in your use but I would avoid "nowadays", which sounds very colloquial to me (AmE). This is discussed to some degree on the Wictionary talk page for the word nowadays.

How stylistically aligned is "nowadays"? As a non-native speaker I may be very wrong on this, but my intuition is to avoid this word in business context and use "presently" or "currently" instead. Am I right? 20:58, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

That’s right, nowadays would be out of place in a business contract or treaty. It’s too nonspecific and colloquial. —Stephen 02:07, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

  • Agreed, "at the present time" is very common phrasing in formal contexts. I would also use "currently." You can also optionally use the shorter "at present" phrasing: "I'm afraid I won't be able to get that report to you at present." Although it sounds clipped, it's still acceptable.
    – Crazy Eyes
    Aug 14, 2015 at 17:46

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