What is the difference between these phrases?

now and then


now and again

Google says that they mean the same. So saying "Every now and then I go for trekking" is same as "Every now and again I go for trekking", right? If not then what would be proper use case for each of these?

  • More correctly, "Now and then/again I go trekking," or even, "Now and then/again I trek."
    – Rory Alsop
    Oct 24, 2013 at 11:55

4 Answers 4


The proper use case for each is the same, so use whichever you prefer, however you should correct the latter half of the sentence, removing the word 'for':

Now and then I go trekking.

  • Absolutely right. They do mean the same thing and they do have the same syntax and range of accoutrements, like every, which is optional. Which one you use is entirely a personal matter. And, in American English, at least, one goes trekking/skiing/hiking/boating, etc. without the preposition. BTW, hiking is probly the most common word in N. America for trekking. Trekking will be understood, though. Oct 24, 2013 at 14:00

I have always had an issue with the "Now and again" phrase. "Now" is a time reference as well as "Then". But "Again" is a repetition reference, which does not make sense. You do something "Now" and you do it "Again" which could be right after the "Now" happens. So in essence you do something twice back to back. But the whole intent of the phrase is supposedly based on time. Basically you do something from time to time. So the "Now and Again" makes no sense. "Now and Then" is much more clear in it's meaning.


I agree with every now and then being past tense. If you say “we do” it’s present/future. If you say “we would do” it’s present/past. Some southerners have always used the phrase “every now and then” for some reason.

  • 1
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    Feb 27, 2023 at 5:47

It seems more natural, or comfortable to use 'now and then' in the past tense and 'now and again' in the present or future tense. For example, "Now and then we would walk the autumnal lanes in search of blackberries" as opposed to 'Now and again we visit garage sales to see what bargains are to be had"

  • 1
    Welcome to EL&U! Do you have any evidence for that? Where I live it is quite common to hear 'now and again'. Oct 7, 2016 at 6:16

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