I presented 4 groups of biological terms, while just 2 of them are used in nowadays, and the 2 other groups are less. So when I refer to the other 2 groups, can I say about them the following sentence? (For me it sounds a little weird and that's why I'm asking this question)

"These terms are less using in nowadays"


These terms are less using in nowadays.

This is not idiomatic English.

  • are using is an active form of the verb use, and implies that the subject (terms, in this example) performs the action. What you want is the passive form: BE + past participle.

    These terms are less used

  • nowadays is an adverb, not a noun, so it cannot stand as the object of a preposition like in. It means in these days all by itself.

    These terms are less used nowadays.

  • Adverbs and short adverbial phrases of frequency (often, very rarely, usually) are usually placed where you have placed less, after the first auxiliary verb. But comparatives (more, less) are usually placed after the lexical (main) verb and its complements.

    These terms are used less nowadays.
    People use these terms less nowadays.

    This is because less and more often introduce longer comparative constructions with than which would make the syntactic core harder to parse if placed in the ordinary position.

    These terms are less than they were ten years ago used nowadays.
    okThese terms are used less nowadays than they were ten years ago.

  • 2
    Another alternative (which the OP may have been half-remembering) would be “These terms are less in use nowadays…”, which means roughly the same as “…used less…”. – PLL Nov 9 '15 at 0:08
  • It's not just unidiomatic; it's senseless! – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 9 '15 at 12:01

The passive participial construction is formed nowadays with is|are|was|were being plus the past participle

...are being used...

Blood-letting was being used to lower fever as late as the mid-19th century. It was discredited in the late 19th century and is not being used nowadays.

  • +1 for discreetly accommodating the old passival without confusing OP by actually mentioning it! – StoneyB Nov 8 '15 at 14:15
  • passival - an archaic progressive construction in middle voice (syntactically active but semantically passive), replaced by the passive progressive in modern English. For example, "the house is building", "the meal was eating". But to my mind the "continuous" aspect is equally inappropriate today, and is not used nowadays. – FumbleFingers Nov 8 '15 at 16:45
  • @FumbleFingers Exactly so. And in fact I doubt the passival was ever used with atelic verbs like use; there was really no need for a progressive passive where the sense was inherently imperfective. – StoneyB Nov 8 '15 at 16:55
  • @StoneyB: The whole thing is probably well beyond my pay grade. I'm not even clear as to whether this wine is drinking well is a "passival" usage or not. – FumbleFingers Nov 8 '15 at 17:13
  • 1
    @StoneyB: It just occurred to me that the house is abuilding / a-building seemed to me to be primarily "archaic" because of the a / a- prefix, so I searched for it in Google Books. This is typical of the instances I found: The history of the passival form is confused with that of the type the house is abuilding, descended from OE expressions with on followed by the verbal noun in -unge. All that tells me is I'm definitely outside my pay grade here! – FumbleFingers Nov 8 '15 at 18:26

For starters, it is nowadays, not in nowadays.

Then, you used the correct form of the verb use in your first sentence (two of them are used nowadays) so why change it in the other sentence?

Finally, it's more natural to move less after the verb. This way we end up with:

These terms are used less nowadays.

Which is fine. If you want some variation, you can say:

These terms are less in use nowadays.
These terms are (almost) out of use nowadays.

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