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Difference of Ora and adesso?

They both mean Now, but whats the difference between them? That's all. Grazie :)

February 23, 2019



There is no difference, their formal meaning is identical.
Choosing one over the other is merely a question of personal style. For instance, adesso (three syllables) is longer than ora (one syllable), so when more emphasis is required, I prefer using the former.


They are synonyms (now a days).


They are synonyms (now), but if we want to look for some differences we can try.

They were born in the Middle Age, since the latin nunc (in questo momento - in this moment) was replaced by hora, ad impsum [tempus], modo, i.e. respectively ora / adesso / mo (or mo').
In effect today nunc is not present in any romance languages.

tendentially adesso is used a lot in the North while ora, is very common in Tuscany but also in Sicily; finally mo is used in dialects in Central/Southern Italy (instead once it was a standard term, used even in the "Divine Comedy" by Dante). But there are many other versions depending on local dialects.

in the spoken language adesso seems a little more frequent, but ora is preferred writing because it sounds more elegant, in effect often it appears in proses/poetries, in the truncated version or, too.
Further, at the beginning of sentences, ora is more frequent e.g.

Ora devi dirmi tutto.
(Now you have to tell me everything.)

and sometimes followed by a comma e.g.

Ora, dal momento che non ho più interesse... (Now, since I'm no longer interested...).

nowaday in dictionaries adesso is defined as a synonym more familar than ora (especially in the North) and in effect as said this is more frequent in the spoken language; so, to get their light nuances you need to recall some famous analyses.
Considering they both in the main meaning ("in this moment" or a moment really near to this present) N.Tommaseo, a famous writer and linguist from the past often quoted, affirmed that adesso is able to suggest a more direct connection with the past, being better suited to contexts where you're creating a contrast with it or comparing to it (before/now). Ora instead suggests the present considered in itself very well. e.g.

Adesso capisco! / Ora capisco!
(Now I understand!)

adesso underlines more I didn't understand before, but now I do, recalling the past, instead ora emphasizes more this last moment, Now I'm understanding.
Finally he affirms ora can refers a shorter range of time.


2019-05-20 Thank you Emy__3 for this detailed analysis! I feel justified now in using adesso to emphasize the contrast from the period before now.


I'm glad you like it, thanks to you, too. The last part of my post ("nuances") concerns academic rules and most people don't mind them nowaday, so you can even use these words interchangeably. You can do as you wish. Have a nice day.

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