In my English class today my prof gave us a sentence:

Prince Charles is now a husband.

He then told us to find out if there is anything wrong with this sentence as our homework. Undoubtedly, this sentence is grammatically right. The only possible problem is it may not agree with the conventional English use. I think it's maybe because the "now" is a bit out of place, but I'm not sure. (The only thing I can sense is that if we transform the sentence into " Now Prince Charles is a husband" or " Prince Charles is a husband now" they'll certainly sound perfect). I'm not a native speaker. Can anyone help me about this! Best regards.

  • 4
    This sentence sounds perfectly natural to me, and "is now" certainly still sees regular (if slightly declining) use. In particular, the 1977 - 2008 link shows plenty of modern use.
    – apsillers
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 13:52
  • 1
    Well, he was already a husband quite some time ago now.
    – tchrist
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 14:04
  • @Josh61 well I know the sentence must be old fashioned now. But that doesn't matter. We only deal with English usage here ;)
    – Vim
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 14:20
  • 3
    I agree with @JohnLawler on this one. "is now a husband" implies the fact that he wasn't before. Stating this as "is now married" instead seems indeed more natural, or rather intuitive (at least to me). The given sentence is as you already stated not wrong. In other news: "The tickets are now diamonds!"
    – kasoban
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 15:01
  • 2
    It seems to me that "now" is a less problematic modifier than, for example, "currently" or "at this point" or "for the time being" would be. To judge from other comments above, "now" mainly creates a distinction in people's minds between the present and the past, whereas the other options underscore not just the break with the past but the uncertainty of the prince's matrimonial stability going forward.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 4:54

1 Answer 1


Pragmatically, 'husband' is normally used as an inalienable noun. (A table in a paper on "Alienable vs. inalienable possessive constructions" by Martin Haspelmath suggests that 'husband' appears as possessed 74% of the time in numbers based on the British National Corpus, more than any other kinship term listed except 'grandmother'.)

Inalienability is not as strongly marked a category in English as it is in other languages, but "is now a husband" on its own feels somewhat bare. Compare similarly:

? Prince Charles is now a brother-in-law.
? Prince Charles is now a boss.
? Prince Charles is now a neighbor.

If this is all we're communicating, we're more likely to indicate the possessor and say my brother-in-law, the boss of sector 7G, your neighbor, his husband, or rephrase altogether (He was promoted, he got married, he had someone move in next door)

We can make these words alienable if we are talking about the quality of or a change in the relation rather than the fact (He's a bad boss, you're a good husband, he became a father), or if the relation is relevant on its own (I'm a mother now, so I need to...).

In light of that, "Prince Charles is now a husband" is basically only something you'd say by itself if being a husband per se was something he'd been aspiring to.

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