Question - hiện tại vs bây giờ?
Is there a difference between hiện tại and bây giờ? At first glance they seem to be used interchangeably.
There's also hiện giờ to add to your vocab list.
Hiện tại carries the meaning of the present. When you talk about the past (quá khứ), the present (hiện tại) and the future (tương lai). All 3 of these terms are from Chinese - 過去, 現在 and 將來 respectively. There are other ways to talk about those 3. Trước đây (before now) can be used to mean the past. Bây giờ (now) can be taken to mean the present and sau này (after this) can be used to mean in the future.
TehVanarch's answer is correct, but I want to give you some info on usage:
Bây giờ has the word giờ in it, so it relates to time. It means now. "bây giờ là mùa thu" = "Now is the fall" = "It's the fall now."
Hiện tại often deals with states and situations. Hiện tại I have no money with me. Hiện tại we have no mean to get out of town. So it means "in our current state," "right now," or "up to this point."