The case is closed by now.

The case is closed now.

What exactly is the difference between the two?

1 Answer 1


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.


He might have finished writing his novel by now.

Would both be valid uses of the phrase.

  • 3
    This answer should've been upvoted by now. +1.
    – J.R.
    May 20, 2012 at 10:56
  • The case should be closed by now.
    – Noah
    May 20, 2012 at 11:14
  • @j.r. What is the difference between should have and should, as in my example?
    – Noah
    May 20, 2012 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, 2012 at 12:47
  • It is not necessary that it be used hypothetically. "He will have gotten home by now" is common and not hypothetical.
    – MetaEd
    May 20, 2012 at 13:46

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