English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is there any difference between the two following sentences?

  • We can't connect to Outlook right now.
  • We can't connect to Outlook now.
share|improve this question
Right now. Now. – MετάEd Feb 5 '13 at 17:04

Yes. Using right now emphasizes the time and implies that some condition is currently being experienced that prevents the connection but with the expectation that it will be corrected at some point in the future.

We can't connect right now, but hopefully it will be fixed in an hour.

Using just now may imply that some general condition has changed that is not temporal in nature:

You asked me to disconnect that cable, but I can't connect to Outlook now.

or it might be used in the exact same way as right now albeit with perhaps a little less emphasis on this exact moment.

share|improve this answer
I don't agree that plain "[not] now" actually implies a non-temporal reason why not. It's just that "[not] right now" very much does imply some temporary obstacle - which by further implication isn't expected to apply at some point in the future. So "not right now" always means "probably/certainly later", whereas "not now" in and of itself says nothing about whether it's because of some recent but permanent change in the situation, or because it's not possible at this exact moment. – FumbleFingers Feb 5 '13 at 18:38
Yes, you are right, One might say, I can't connect now and mean at this time. – Jim Feb 5 '13 at 21:34
A man could say to his "broody" wife "I don't feel like trying for another child right now, dear." Then later that day (having been to the vasectomy clinic) he could say "I can't father a child now". But if she didn't know where he'd been, the wife wouldn't necessarily realise her hopes had in fact been permanently dashed. – FumbleFingers Feb 5 '13 at 22:15

Right often adds emphasis, as in ‘I want you to do it right now.’ In your example right now means ‘at exactly the present moment’, but it leaves the reader with the hope that a connection might be possible in the not too distant future.

share|improve this answer
Yes - right now is often used as a hedged (ameliorated) form, sounding less abrupt than now in a refusal (a negative construction): 'I'm sorry, I can't come right now.' Strangely, in an imperative construction, it adds bite: 'Do it right now!' – Edwin Ashworth Feb 5 '13 at 17:57

Consider the following examples:

  • I want you to do it now.
  • I want you to do it right now.

Both sentences convey the same general meaning. The first adds emphasis to encourage expeditious response.

Now consider:

  • We can connect to the internet now.
  • We can connect to the internet right now.

The first sentence indicates that we can connect at this very moment and leaves open the possibility, if not the likelihood that the connection may be ongoing.

However, the second sentence also indicates immediate access. However, it does not sugest ongoing availability, and may even suggest potential loss of access if not exercised soon.


  • We cannot connect to the internet now.
  • We cannot connect to the internet right now.

The first indicates no present access and perhaps ongoing lack of access. [We cancelled our service.] The status has changed from yes to no.

The second sentence conveys immediate access with no indication of ongoign status, or perhaps the tentativeness of the no status. [I'm not sure how long the power outage will last.]

As in most writing, context will shape the interpretation.

share|improve this answer

Yes, right now means at "this exact moment". But "now" gives a longer lapse of time--perhaps in the next hour or so. "Right now" is also a panicked expression whereas "now" gives the feeling of being more relaxed.

share|improve this answer

"Right now" is more prevalent in American english than in British. It seems to follow a trend of "why use one word when two will do?". Another example is "next up" rather than "next". In Britain we would tend to say "at present".

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.