The mix up, or would I say the misuse of the adverb, ‘Presently’ to denote, erroneously though, the present time never ceases to be the favourite of our crop of journalists and reporters when covering events as they break on the local or international scene. Another disturbing dimension is that ‘Presently’ appears to have gained currency that writers, journalists and reporters no longer see the need to pause a while,double check and correct themselves.
Listen to the network news on the radio and television, or read the dailies, the phrase, ‘presently’ occurs several times over to the embarrassment of the English purists. If in doubt, there are reference materials to instruct us on the correct engagement of words to make sense and educate the publics properly rather than take them for granted, especially so for those who are learning the language. As I have often said, journalists and reporters are seen as role models, particularly the On-Air personality. The young ones and even the adults tend to mimic whatever they say on air or write on papers.
To them, they can never be wrong, so the feeble and impressionable minds would think. It calls for restrain on the part of purveyors of information to make them tidy, avoid mistakes that could harm the society. As pointed out earlier, the dictionary interpretation of the adverb ‘presently,’ precisely, the Chambers 21st Century Dictionary, talks about something coming soon. In other words, a delayed programme or event to happen shortly. One thing that crossed my mind as I ponder over this, is the manner our writers try to deviate from the standard English and embrace anything substandard as long as the language is concerned.
Note that when you write, engaging the word ‘presently’ to indicate that an event or occurrence is taking place now,you are indirectly imputing that the programme or event would take place soon or shortly. That is incorrect usage and a misnomer. Correctly write or speak ‘at present’ or ‘at the present time’ to prove that the event or programme is currently taking place. Again, borrowing from the dictionary, the adjective ‘present’ fittingly conveys the idea of being at a place or occasion in question, existing at present now. The synonym of ‘at present,’ if you wish to sound differently and to avoid monotony, is the adverb ‘currently.’ Kudos to some of our broadcast stations and the print media outfits that have been on top of the game here.
They gladden my heart when I hear them speak or write ‘currently’ or ‘at present’ to tell the story of something happening now. But frowns at, just as the masters and purists of the language would do, the unrestrained recycling of the adverb ‘presently’ by other media outfits to mean at the present moment. They are wrong. Stick to ‘at present’ or ‘currently’ when you mean to convey the idea of now and don’t be tempted to write or speak ‘presently,’ then you are referring to that which would take place soon or shortly