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Word's spellchecker often suggest that I write "zur Zeit" where I would naturally write "zurzeit".

Is my understanding correct, that the meaning is always:

  • zur Zeit = at some time in the past (zur Zeit von Ludwig XIV)
  • zurzeit = currently (ich bin zurzeit abwesend)

or are there some subtle differences that I don't get?

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3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

In modern German both variants exist, each with a different meaning

  1. zurzeit: currently, at present
    Example: Helga ist zurzeit nicht im Büro.
  2. zur Zeit: at the time of
    Example: Zur Zeit Goethes war die Rechtschreibung anders als heute.

This was not always the case as before the 1996 Reformed Orthography both variants were allowed in the meaning of 1. above. Therefore you still may find the old spelling in books, or articles published before 1996.

Currently we have to build a composite adverb when the distinct meaning of their parts are lost (rule §39 of the Official Spelling Rules). In prepositional usage (rule §39 E2.2.3) we need to separate the preposition and the noun.

Also see: Canoo.net: Rechtschreibung von zurzeit

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Ich würde zur Zeit nicht davon ausgehen, daß die "alte" Schreibweise völlig ausgestorben ist. –  Uwe Aug 27 '13 at 15:48
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I'd simply like to quote from Wiktionary:

Das Adverb „zurzeit“ (= „momentan, gerade“) darf nicht mit der Fügung „zur Zeit“ (= „um die Zeit, während der Zeit“) verwechselt werden: Das Wetter ist zurzeit schlecht. Aber: Zur Zeit der Dinosaurier war das Wetter auch nicht besser.

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Yes, you are correct. These expressions have a different meaning and they are not interchangeable. "zurzeit" is a distinct expression and is not equivalent to "zur Zeit".

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