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. It is commonly used to indicate relationships in terms of time and sequence. In this lesson, we will discuss how to learn and use it.

Functions of 'After'

There are three functions that 'after' can take:

'After' as a Preposition

One of the main uses of 'after' is to function as a preposition. When 'after' is used as a preposition, It is followed by a noun, pronoun or noun phrase to form a prepositional phrase. it usually indicates a relationship in terms of time and order. Here are some examples:

She left after the meeting.

Here, 'after' indicates the time of departure.

After a few days, she will get better.

As you can see, 'after' is used to show a specific amount of time has passed.

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

In this example, 'after' is used to indicate the order or sequence of names.

John is the first runner, and Sarah comes after him in the race.

In this sentence, 'after' indicates the order of runners in the race, with Sarah following John.

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

As mentioned earlier, 'after' can function as a conjunction. It acts as a subordinating conjunction, connecting two clauses and indicating the order or time relationship between them. Take a look at the following examples:

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.

Position in a Sentence

'After' functioning as a conjunction can appear at the beginning or in the middle of the sentence. For example:

After we received the prize, the crowed went mad.

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


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.

'After' as an Adverb

As was mentioned before, 'after' can also function as an adverb. When we use 'after' as an adverb, it means a later time or an order of events. 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' is modifying the verb 'head,' and it indicates the sequence of actions.


'After' can also appear as a particle. It is typically used in combination with a verb to form a phrasal verb. Here are some examples:

Please look after my cat while I'm on vacation.

As you can see, 'look after' means to take care of or attend to someone or something.

The police went after the thief.

As you can see, 'go after' means to pursue or chase something or someone.

'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.


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