What’s the Difference Between ‘сейчас’ and ‘теперь’?

Сейчас and теперь are synonyms and both are advebs of time in Russian. But there are some cases where you can only use one of them. Or one is more common than the other.

Сейчас” refers to the present moment in time. It is used to indicate “now” or “at the moment” and suggests a shorter timeframe. It often implies that something is happening or will happen imminently in the current time frame.

For example:

Я иду в магазин сейчас. – I am going to the store now.

Я сейчас занят. – I am busy right now.

Теперь” is used to describe a shift or change from a previous state to a new state in time. It denotes a more distinct transition or indicates that something has happened or will happen from this point forward.

For example, you could say, “Теперь я понимаю“, which means “Now I understand” in the sense of having gained a new understanding or having reached a different level of comprehension.

It often implies a contrast between the past and the present: “Я теперь живу в Москве” (I now live in Moscow).

Difference between сейчас and теперь in Russian

Other Examples:

  • Теперь я готов начать работу. – Now I am ready to start working.
  • Теперь у меня есть новая машина. – Now I have a new car.
  • Теперь я понимаю, почему это произошло. – Now I understand why it happened.
  • Теперь мы можем идти домой. – Now we can go home.
  • Теперь у меня есть маленькая дочь. – Now I have a little daughter.
  • Теперь я уверен в своих способностях. – Now I am confident in my abilities.

When you’re talking about what’s happening now, you CAN’T use теперь:

  • Я сейчас сплю. – I’m sleeping now.
  • Что ты сейчас делаешь? – What are you doing now?

But if something has changed in life, for example, or it has been a while, you can use the word теперь when talking about the present. Let’s imagine a situation where two old friends meet after five years and start a conversation:

– Я не видел тебя с тех пор, как ты уволился. Чем ты сейчас занимаешься? Всё ещё работаешь преподавателем? – I haven’t seen since you left the job. What are you doing now? Are you still a teacher?

– Нет. Я теперь продаю одежду. Это мой бизнес. – I’m selling the clothes now. It’s my business.

We use теперь, because there’s a change in his life. It’s not like it used to be.

Раньше он любил джаз, а теперь любит рок. – He used to like jazz, now he likes rock.

You can also use сейчас here.

See Also: Difference Between “почему” and “зачем” in Russian

Another good example:

Я уже извинился. Теперь твоя очередь. – I have already apologised. Now it’s your turn.

When we say that it’s someone’s turn now, we always use теперь.

So, I would say, сейчас is more general. Теперь is more about particular situations.

In summary, “сейчас” relates to the current moment or a shorter timeframe in the present, while “теперь” emphasizes a transition or change from a previous state to a new state. “Сейчас” focuses on the present, while “теперь” highlights a shift or difference compared to before.

I know it’s hard to understand the difference, but if you continue learning and reading more stuff in Russian, sooner or later you would get it!

Good luck 🙂

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