The word 'after' functions as a preposition, conjunction, adverb, and adjective. In this lesson, we will discover this word in detail.

How to Use "After" in English?

'After' is a common word among native speakers. It can function as a preposition, a conjunction, an adverb and an adjective. In this lesson, we will discuss how to learn and use it.

Functions of 'After'

'After' as a Preposition

One of the main uses of 'after' is to function as a preposition. Below, we will analyze the kinds of prepositions it can be:


'After' as a Preposition of Time

'After' can be a preposition of time. Look:

  • When we want to signify something is happening after something else, we use 'after' as a preposition. Take a look:

I want to read after dinner so be quick.

Natasha is taking a nap after work.

  • When a specific amount of time has passed:

After a few days, she will get better.

After weeks of desperation, we finally got a message from our daughter.

After as a Preposition of Place

Below, we are going to see how 'after' can be a preposition of place. Look:

  • When we want to indicate that someone/something comes after another in a list:

Your name is after Maria's.

Anna's name comes after mine in the professor's list.


Some adverbs and prepositions can join verbs and make a completely different verb called, phrasal verbs. These prepositions and adverbs are called particles. Let us see how 'after' can be a particle:

  • When we want to name someone/something the same as another, we use 'after':

George was named after his great grandfather.

I want to name my daughter Helena after my mother.

Position in a Sentence

Since 'after' comes as a preposition here, it always comes before nouns and noun phrases. We can begin a sentence with a prepositional phrase, put it in the middle, or at the end of the sentence. Look:

After soccer, I feel like taking a nap.

Here, we have a prepositional phrase at the beginning of the sentence.

Let's play poker after dinner.

Here, we have a prepositional phrase at the end of the sentence.


Please note that when we have a prepositional phrase at the beginning of the sentence, we must have a comma after it. Also, when we have a prepositional phrase in the middle, we must have commas before and after it.

'After' as a Conjunction

Another use of 'after' is as a conjunction. Let us learn more about it below:


'After' as a Subordinating Conjunction

As you know, subordinating conjunctions are used to connect a subordinating clause to the main clause. When we want to indicate that something happened after another, we use 'after'. Look:

After we finally settled in Austria, my father had to go back to Canada for a meeting.

I think she will learn her lessons after she has been completely torn to pieces.


Please note that we must always use a comma between the two clauses whenever we have 'after' at the beginning of the sentence. Take a look:

After our son was born, we have gone through many conflicts.

Position in a Sentence

Since 'after' is a subordinating conjunction here, it can come both at the beginning of a subordinate clause, or between the two clauses. Take a look at the following examples:

After we received the prize, the crowed went mad.

She hurried to my room after she had heard the devastating news.

'After' as an Adverb

As was mentioned before, 'after' can also function as an adverb. Below, we will find out the kinds of adverbs it can be:


'After' as an Adverb of Time

When we use 'after' as an adverb, it means at a later time. So, it can be an adverb of time. Let us look at the examples below:

She died soon after.

She is headed to the hospital and will be at granny's after.

Position in a Sentence

Since 'after' is an adverb here, it mainly comes after verbs or objects, or even other adverbs to modify them. Look at the following examples:

They went out soon after.

Here, 'after' is modifying another adverb.

Fredrick will come here and then head downtown after.

Here, 'after' has come after the direct object.

'After' as an Adjective


Using 'after' as an adjective is archaic and is no longer common among native speakers. However, learning it will be of no harm to anyone. It is only used before nouns. Take a look:

She regretted it in after years.

Here, it means in the next years to come.

First think about it cause there will be no turning back in after years.

Position in a Sentence

We only use 'after' as an adjective before nouns. Look:

Life was easier in the before years.

Idioms with 'After'

Now, we are going to see what idioms and expressions we have with 'after'. Let us take a look at them:

  • After all: This idiom has two meanings. One is to state that despite earlier doubts, something is still true. Look:

The fight has been over, so I guess the match shall continue after all.

  • After all: The second meaning is used when we want to add extra information to verify what we have just said. Take a look below:

He can always rely on me. He's my brother, after all.

  • After you: This one is used in spoken English when we want to politely ask someone to go before us:

A : Do you want to sit?

B : Yes sir, but after you.

  • Be after someone: When we want to catch someone or something, we use this idiom:

He's after me, you know.

She is always gonna come after her ex, no matter what.


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