The Evolution of Language: A Comparative Analysis of Nowadays and Now a Days

June 18, 2023

Language, as a living entity, undergoes transformations to align with evolving usage trends and overarching cultural shifts. At the lexical level, this metamorphosis sometimes manifests in changes to spelling or the consolidation of multi-word phrases into single-word formations through compounding.

A notable illustration of this phenomenon can be observed in the term nowadays, which originated as the three-word phrase “now a dayes” in the 14th century. However, in contemporary usage, it predominantly appears as a single word. This raises the question of whether this linguistic condensation signifies a linguistic deviation or rather signifies the natural and necessary evolution of the English language. This exploration aims to shed light on the appropriate usage of nowadays and whether it should replace the conventional usage of now a days.

Differentiating Nowadays from Now a Days

This discourse seeks to examine the disparity between nowadays and now a days. It will delineate the contexts in which each spelling is appropriate, accompanied by a mnemonic tool that aids in selecting the correct term for written communication.

Appropriate Usage of Nowadays

What does nowadays entail? Nowadays functions as an adverb signifying the present time. It serves as a synonym for fellow adverbs such as presently and currently.

Consider the following sentences as illustrative examples:

  • Nowadays, the production of cars like the ’63 Corvette coupe is a rarity.
  • The dominance of the MacBook Pro in the highly competitive ultrabook market is no longer taken for granted nowadays.
  • My perspective on global affairs has undergone a significant transformation in recent years.
  • The optimal grading of these areas should be directed outward and downward from the wettest regions of the swamp. Additionally, trenches should be established and fitted with drainage “tiles” — large sections of plastic pipes are commonly used for this purpose nowadays. (Source: The Wall Street Journal)

Appropriate Usage of Now a Days

Now a days, as a variant of the term nowadays, holds a subordinate position in terms of linguistic preference.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded usage of now a days dates back to 1362. It originated from a Middle English phrase written as three separate words, forming “nou A dayes.” Over the course of its first century or so of usage, various spellings emerged, including nou A dayes, nou adaies, now a dayes, and nowadayes. Eventually, a hyphenated version resembling the contemporary phrasing, now-a-days, gained popularity. In present-day usage, however, the term is invariably expressed as a single word without spaces. The graph below depicts the frequency of nowadays, now a days, and now-a-days in contemporary English publications since 1800.

It is important to note that this graph only considers published English sources since 1800, thus lacking scientific precision and exhaustive accuracy. Nonetheless, it unmistakably demonstrates that the single-word variant nowadays has become the standard rendering of this phrase.

Mnemonic Tool for Discerning the Difference

In modern written English, it is advised to consistently choose the term nowadays. Despite its origins as a three-word phrase, contemporary writers overwhelmingly employ the single-word form, and widely recognized style guides such as The AP Stylebook advocate for this usage without hyphens. Reverting to the original variant would needlessly distract readers.

To facilitate the retention of the correct term, it is helpful to remember that nowadays shares the same single-word structure as its synonyms, currently and presently. This mnemonic device simplifies the task of distinguishing between these words.


In the debate between nowadays and now a days, the adverb nowadays transitioned from a three-word phrase to a single word several centuries ago. Since 1880, the single-word spelling of nowadays has become the favored