In a formal context, I am looking to specify with a short generic word or phrase that certain events happened in the recent past. For example:

A nail was recently hammered in; a saw was recently used; a board was cut recently.

I would like to (at least partially) avoid repetition of the word. A simple internet search yields the following synonyms:

not long ago, of late, lately, the other day

However, none of these or other examples I have found so far are suitable for a reasonably formal setting. "A saw was used the other day" seems very informal. At the same time, I want to phrase this in a generic way; specifying when exactly the events took place may be unfavourable, because I don't know myself, don't wish to reveal it or it may be a topic of contention.

Please note that the example is used for rhetorical purposes only. Rephrasing of the above trivial sentence is not useful, since this would not work for a more realistic situation.

  • 2
    Why can't you say what the actual items are? Is it a secret?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 11:22
  • 'In the recent past' is more formal (but uses the word you wish not to overuse). 'Of late' is very formal; 'A nail was hammered in of late' sounds ludicrous. Note that though 'recently' may be used for both durative and punctive events in the recent past, 'of late' and 'lately' are not used for punctive events Commented May 4, 2017 at 11:23
  • @Mari-LouA There are some unfinished/technical/confidential examples I have in mind. Besides, half a page of technical language would make for a worse question than a short and simple example. Commented May 4, 2017 at 11:25
  • Half a page of technical language may be too much, but if you could give an example or two, I don't see the problem. But you're the OP, s'up to you. Why not supply dates, as in May 2, hour: 14.00 hammer was utilized Sounds a bit over the top... but it's formal. OR "A hammer was utilized earlier / previously / precedently".
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 11:30
  • @Mari-LouA I've added an edit about this. Also, those three examples seem slightly different to "recently", because to me these words just mean "a time before the present", rather than "a short time before the present". Commented May 4, 2017 at 11:46

1 Answer 1


Some suggestions:

A nail just hammered; a freshly used saw; a newly cut board.

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