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Looking at the JLPT website and its example questions I come across this one on N3. It wants to know which sentence is correct, 今ごろ is the key word.

  1. それでは今ごろテストを始めます
  2. 今ごろ東京では桜が咲いているでしょう
  3. 今ごろ現金で支払うことが少なくなった
  4. 今ごろ雨が降りそうな天気だ。

The answer is 2. I guessed correctly. But…why is this so?

Number 3 seems a bit wrong. It should be something more like recently than about now. Number 4 stands out as totally wrong. Why would you say about now it looks like rain?

1 however…I’m not sure why 1 can’t be correct. Translating it to English- “the test will be starting about now” seems a pretty sensible sentence. The person overseeing the exam would never say such a thing of course but I could well imagine the mother of a school boy who doesn’t know the exact time the test is starting but knows it is 3ish, looking up at the clock and saying that.

What is so different about the Japanese nuance that this doesn’t work?

What would be a more natural word to use in that situation?

Is 今ごろ meant for more solidly known facts or...what?

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If someone were to look at a clock and say 今ごろテストが始まるだろう then it would probably be OK, but the sentence is それでは今ごろテストを始めます, which is quite different. –  ssb Jun 2 at 3:19
    
how is it different? –  steve Jun 2 at 4:06
2  
I wanted to say that the テストを始める part as opposed to テストが始まる was the difference, but maybe guess that's not it. The それでは feels like a key. It signals the start of something deliberate. それでは今からテストを始めます is basically like a set phrase. I want to say also that there's an element of volition and certainty, but I'm not confident enough or else I'd make it into an answer... –  ssb Jun 2 at 4:28
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今ごろ seems to me to have a subjunctive flavor, rather than being used to describe actual events. So you can use it to say, "The cherry blossoms should be blooming in Tokyo around now," or "The test should be starting around now," but not to say, "Let's begin the test now." –  alexhatesmil Jun 2 at 5:37

1 Answer 1

You can get the question right just by knowing how to use 今ごろ, which you did by following your gut feeling (which is also good technique). The other technique is to try spot a close alternative to what is given, in this case, words similar to 今ごろ:

  1. 今から: In that case, I am starting the exam from now.
  2. 今ごろ*= about now or: Around this time (of year) the Sakura are in full bloom.
  3. 近ごろ (ちかごろ)= nowadays, somewhat similar to 最近 (Thank you Chocolate)
  4. 今にも=at any moment: Weather that looks like it is about to start raining at any moment.

*Correct answer

There may be other alternatives and sometimes it seems some words might work in more than one option but the examiners are looking for the best or most natural answer.

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