Using the Word “Nowadays” Like a Native English Speaker

Today’s lesson is about the phrase nowadays. There are three ways non-native English speaker use this incorrectly.

  • When it is unnecessary
  • Too often
  • In the wrong context

When it is unnecessary

I hear many students begin every sentence with “nowadays”. It is completely unnecessary, and it is a very bad habit.

Let’s look at some examples:

How old are you?

Nowadays I am 30 years old.

The correct answer is:

I am 30 years old.

What is your favourite sport?

Nowadays I like soccer.

The correct answer is:

I like soccer.

Let’s look at some more complex questions where the word nowadays can be completely eliminated..

Are you still working at Westjet?
I used to. Now I’m working for Air Canada, I like it because the pay is better.

Are you still living in Toronto?
I was, but now I’m living in Ottawa, it’s much colder here. 

Using Nowadays Too often

I have heard many advanced level non-native English speakers using nowadays way too often. Native English speakers don’t really use the phrase nowadays in everyday speech. We tend to use “these days” or “recently” or nothing at all. Since we don’t use nowadays often it really sticks out to us when we hear someone using it repeatedly.  Nowadays is a bit too formal and is often used in written form. Like the last examples nowadays can often be completed removed from the sentence.

When I lived in Canada I studied French as a second language. Nowadays I live in Brazil so I’m studying Portuguese.

This sentence is okay but this sentence is better.

When I lived in Canada I studied French as a second language. Now I live in Brazil so I’m studying Portuguese.

In this case, it sounds more natural to completely eliminate the phrase nowadays.

If you must use the phrase nowadays try and mix it up with these days or more recently.

I used to run a lot to keep in shape, more recently I’ve been doing yoga.

I haven’t watched TV in months, these days I’m busy studying.

You can also say at the moment, currently, as of late, and lately.

I’m really busy, at the moment I’m not taking on any more projects.


In the wrong context

Nowadays should be used to contrast the past and the present. When they do use nowadays is it to contrast the distant past with the future.

I remember when I had to use slow dial-up internet at home. Nowadays almost everyone has access to high-speed internet with them on their cellphones.

I remember when I had to bring my camera with me everywhere to take pictures, nowadays everyone always has a camera with them on their cell phone.

Using nowadays is not the end of the world, it makes sense and native English speakers will understand you. But remember only to use it sparingly, and try and mix it up with these days and recently.

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