Was werden Sie nun machen?

English Translation

What will you do now?

Are “nun” and “jetzt” interchangeable in a sentence like this? Would knowing the context make one a better choice?

They are almost perfectly interchangeable, with a few minor exceptions: https://de.quora.com/Was-ist-der-Unterschied-zwischen-nun-und-jetzt

Note that “gleich” is also sometimes an option: “was werden Sie gleich machen?”

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The quora answers are very good. I would agree that they are often interchangeable, because the difference in nuance often has a negligible effect.

One answer summed it up pretty nicely:

“Jetzt” betont stärker den gegenwärtigen Punkt in der ZEIT, “nun” eher den gegenwärtigen ZUSTAND bzw die Situation.

My feeling of the difference is the same, namely that “nun” is more to be interpreted as “now that all these things have happened and the situation is now like it is”, and “jetzt” is a more generic “now” that refers to the moment in time.

So, what I read into the german sentence here is like “something possibly bad has happened, and the question is now how to deal with the situation”.

One other quora answer mentioned this:

NUN, setzt einen beliebigen Zeitpunkt in einer Prozess-Beschreibung.

This is also true. Imagine a recipe or sequence of instructions. Here, “nun” can be used to mean “After you did all these previous steps, now this step is next.”

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