There is a big difference between after and afterward. After is immediate, while afterward can be minutes, days, weeks, or even years later. Let’s explore the different implications of after and afterward.
What is After?
After is a word that can be used in a variety of ways. Most commonly, it is used as a preposition to describe something that happens or exists after something else.
For example, you might say “After I finish my homework, I will watch TV.” In this case, After is describing the order of events. After can also be used as an adverb to describe how something happens. For example, you might say “She ran quickly after she saw the dog.”
In this case, After is describing how the woman ran (quickly). Finally, After can also be used as a noun to refer to the time following something. For example, you might say “We will have a party after the game.” In this case, After is referring to the time period after the game ends.
What is Afterward?
Afterward has several different definitions, but most commonly it is used to mean “later,” “in the future,” or “after that.” It can also be used to refer to a time after something has happened, as in “after the war was over.” In literature, afterward is often used to refer to a sequel or follow-up story.
Difference between After and Afterward
After and Afterward are two words that are often used interchangeably. However, there is a subtle difference between the two terms.
- After refers to a point in time, whereas afterward refers to a period of time.
- For example, if you say “I’m going to bed after I finish my work,” you mean that you will go to bed at the same time or shortly after you finish your work.
- On the other hand, if you say “I’m going to bed afterward,” you mean that you will go to bed sometime after you finish your work – perhaps an hour or two later.
As a general rule, after is used before a noun, while afterward is used before a verb. Therefore, the correct phrase would be “Afterward, he went to bed.”
The answer may seem simple, but there is a nuance to the words that can change their meaning. After refers to time – what happens after something else occurs. It can be used as a noun or verb. As a noun, it means later in time; as a verb, it means to come after in time. In contrast, afterward refers to an action that follows another action. It can only be used as a noun and must refer to an event or conversation. Let’s look at some examples: “After I finish this project, I am going on vacation.” Here, finishing the project is the first thing that happens (afterward) followed by taking a vacation (after).
“We had coffee afterward.” This sentence uses afterward as a noun following the verb had. It means we did something (had coffee) after another event occurred (the meeting ended). There are other differences between these two words – such as usage and connotation – but knowing when to use each one correctly will help your writing sound more polished and professional.