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The case is closed by now.

The case is closed now.

What exactly is the difference between the two?

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1 Answer

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Well (save for highly unusual situations - see the comments for one) only the second one is grammatical. "By now" tends to be used only in the sense of a hypothetical or conjectural statement, where whether or not the thing has happened is in question. So

He should have got back home by now.

And

He might have finished writing his novel by now.

Would both be valid uses of the phrase.

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This answer should've been upvoted by now. +1. –  J.R. May 20 '12 at 10:56
    
The case should be closed by now. –  Noah May 20 '12 at 11:14
    
@j.r. What is the difference between should have and should, as in my example? –  Noah May 20 '12 at 11:23
3  
Say there is a case being tried in the Courthouse. A man is running down the block, with papers in his hand, which he wants to file in that case. His friend sees him, and says: "You are probably too late. Surely the case is closed by now." –  GEdgar May 20 '12 at 12:47
    
It is not necessary that it be used hypothetically. "He will have gotten home by now" is common and not hypothetical. –  MετάEd May 20 '12 at 13:46
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