How do use the word ‘presently’ in a sentence? My grandparents used it when I was a child when saying something like “we will be eating the cake presently”. I remember the meaning to be later – sometime in the future.
According to The Writer’s Handbook by Martin Mander & Stephen Curtis (Penguin Reference Library), the meaning is dependent on the verb tense. In the above example, the future tense was used “we will be eating…”. If it had read “we are presently eating the cake”, then it would mean now.
The Writer’s Handbook also explains that British English has historically used presently to mean ‘soon’, whereas it is now more common to mean ‘now’. The latter is apparently how the Scottish and Americans always used it anyway.
For those of you that read yesterday’s blog, the previous sentence is another example of the use of the word ‘latter’.
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The Pocket Writer’s Handbook by Martin Mander & Stephen Curtis (Penguin Reference Library)
I had always thought that “presently” meant soon. And I also thought I was the only one who knew that definition. So, to save myself embarrassment in from of everyone else in my universe who thinks it means “now,” I never, ever use the word.