Is there any difference between 目前 and 现在 in Mandarin? Especially regarding the use with the tense, such as "these days" vs "recently" in English?

I just found a sentence of the following:


If I understand it correctly, the sentence means:

"Ginza Bees Project* started in 2006. Now, the roof of the three buildings in Ginza don't have the place to cultivate bees; they only have 200 to 300 thousands of bees.

Can I replace it with 现在? Also, are these words different from other such words, such as 如今, 眼前, and 眼下?


I just found out that the original sentence was not 没有 but 设有. My English translation was based on my misunderstood presumption, and that's why it wrote "don't have".


3 Answers 3


First, 没有(without) in the sentence is a typo, It should be 设有 (with)

Both 目前 and 现在 can mean 'now','currently' or 'presently'.

目前 literally means "in front of eyes" which implies 'the current situation you can see'

"目前在银座的三个大厦屋顶都设有养蜂场" means "Currently, the roofs of the three buildings in Ginza are all set up with bee farms" (currently observable fact)

现在 literally means "in the present" or "at present"


"In the present" = as they are happening/now.

"At present" = at the moment/now.

现在在银座的三个大厦屋顶都设有养蜂场 means "Now, the roofs of the three buildings in Ginza are all set up with bee farms" (in the present time)

  • 如今(as of now) is similar to 现在

  • 眼前 can replace 目前 for "now"; but 眼前 can also mean "in front of one's eyes" which cannot be replaced by 目前

  • 眼下 has the same function as 眼前

  • Thanks (and sorry I just checked it again but it was 设有; since it was on mobile app (WeChat) I just wrote it by myself, and I didn't know the word 设有 in the first place!).
    – Blaszard
    Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 20:50
  • @Blaszard - I presume you are editing the English translation in your question too?
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 20:52
  • I forgot I also included English translation, so edited it again. But I assumed it was 没有, so my English translation was also not correct.
    – Blaszard
    Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 20:56
  • Both 'currently' and 'now' in English are reference for 'present time', they can only be used in the present tense. So are '目前' and '现在'
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 20:57
  • @Blaszard You can just use my translation: "Currently, the roofs of the three buildings in Ginza are all set up with bee farms"
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 20:59
  • 目前[mù qián] at present; at the moment; now:
    • the present situation; the existing situation; the current situation; 目前形势.
    • up till the present moment; up till now; so far; to date; 到目前为止
    • 我们不赞成目前的政策变动。 We deprecated changing the policy at present.
  • 现在[xiàn zài] now; at present; today; nowadays; these days; this day and age:
    • from now on; 从现在开始.
    • up to now; 到现在为止
    • 他现在可能在我的家里。 He should be in my house now.

目前 is a formal term usually used in a report, meaning 'according to the current status'. For example, 我们公司目前经营情况很差;

现在 just means 'now'. For example, 我们现在要去哪?;

如今 means 'as now or as today'. For example, 事到如今(meaning things have been going as it's today);

眼前 and 眼下 are colloquial terms, meaning 'from what we can see now'. For example, 眼前(/下)我们没有什么可做的;

  • 眼下 can replace 目前 for the meaning of 'now' ; But 眼前 cannot. For example: "我昨天突然眼前一黑就昏倒了" would be in the past.
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 10:09
  • The example "我昨天突然眼前一黑就昏倒了" doesn't illustrate that 眼前 can not replace 目前 for the meaning of 'now' . So, I don't quite understand your point.
    – dan
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 1:44
  • How about "他過去只顧眼前"
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 2:24
  • "目前" in "目前有兩種選擇" clearly indicated it is "now" in the present tense. But "眼前" in "眼前有兩種選擇" doesn't indicate what tense it is in. It can be "明天你眼前會有兩種選擇" or "三年前當我選擇學校的時, 我眼前只有兩個選擇" -- "眼前" simply mean "in front of one's eyes" You cannot say "明天你目前會有兩種選擇" or "三年前當我選擇學校的時, 我目前只有兩個選擇"
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 2:39
  • Well, I am not saying 眼前 and 目前 are interchangeable. You could replace 目前 with 眼前, but not vice versa. 眼前 could mean either "in front of one's eyes" or "now(or from what we can see now)" based on the context. Your example "我昨天突然眼前一黑就昏倒了" demonstrates the meaning of "in front of one's eyes", but not the meaning of now. Also, standing alone "眼前有兩種選擇" just simply means "now you have two choices"(现在有两种选择). 明天你眼前會有兩種選擇 and 三年前當我選擇學校的時, 我眼前只有兩個選擇 are the same thing.
    – dan
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 3:00

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