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The following sentences -

I was humiliated by him, and now he was standing next to me.

and

And now, I was looking at him, preparing for his entrance.

Are these grammatically correct? I mean, I'm saying "now" but using the past tense. If not, how can I correct it?

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  • I've certainly read now used in that way before. If you prefer, you can use then instead, which probably sounds more usual.
    – Anonym
    Aug 6, 2014 at 18:49

3 Answers 3

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Both are grammatically correct, but neither is a satisfactory English sentence. In the first, a past-perfect construction would be better; and the less-formal tone of the second form below probably is desirable:

I had been humiliated by him, and now he was standing next to me.
I'd been humiliated by him, and now he was standing next to me.

In the second, “I was looking at him” may lead readers to think of people in proximity, one looking at the other. In this case, “preparing for his entrance” is quite jarring because it suggests you are preparing for something (an entrance) that has already happened.

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This is standard usage — according to Google's definition, which is supplied by the New Oxford Dictionary of English:

(in a narrative or account of past events) at the time spoken of or referred to.

"she was nineteen now, and she was alone"

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Your sentences are perfectly correct.

"Now" usually means "at this moment" or "at this juncture" but in a narrative, with a past tense, it means "at that moment", "at that juncture".

e.g. "I had been humiliated by him, but now he was eating from the palm of my hand." To substitute "then" for "now" here might sound ambiguous.

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