Ask Difference

Later vs. After — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Urooj Arif — Updated on March 14, 2024
"Later" refers to a future time, often unspecified, while "after" indicates a sequence, specifying that one event follows another.
Later vs. After — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Later and After

ADVERTISEMENT

Key Differences

"Later" is used to denote a point in time that is subsequent to the current moment, without necessarily being immediately subsequent. It can be relatively vague, not specifying exactly when something will happen, just that it will occur in the future. On the other hand, "after" is used to indicate a sequence, showing that one event or moment follows another. It establishes a clear relational context between two events, with one happening subsequent to the other.
When discussing plans or schedules, "later" is often used to imply a future time without committing to a specific moment. This can be useful for maintaining flexibility. Conversely, "after" is used when there is a clear sequence of events or actions, and there is a need to articulate this order to avoid ambiguity.
The use of "later" can sometimes be subjective, depending on the speaker's perception of time. What one person considers "later" might be seen as "soon" by someone else. However, "after" is more objective, as it always relates one event to another in a sequence, making its meaning clearer in the context of a timeline.
Both "later" and "after" are important in communication for planning and understanding the timing and sequence of events. While "later" provides flexibility and a general sense of future timing, "after" offers clarity and order by specifying the relationship between events in time.

Comparison Chart

Definition

Refers to a future time, often unspecified
Indicates a sequence, one event following another
ADVERTISEMENT

Specificity

Vague, no exact timing
Clear, establishes order between events

Context

General future timing
Specific sequence of events

Flexibility

Provides flexibility in timing
Less flexible, implies a clear order

Subjectivity

Can be subjective
More objective, based on event sequence

Compare with Definitions

Later

Denotes a future moment, not specific.
Let's talk about this later.

After

Indicates following in sequence.
After you complete the form, submit it to the office.

Later

Common in casual or less formal settings.
Let's catch up later!

After

Based on the relation between events.
The meeting will start after everyone arrives.

Later

Implies future action without precision.
I'll finish the report later.

After

Provides context by relating events.
We'll discuss the budget after the presentation.

Later

Allows for flexible planning.
We can decide on the venue later.

After

Implies a fixed order.
Clean up after the event is over.

Later

Dependent on individual's view of time.
I'll get to it later, after my current tasks.

After

Used in more formal or detailed contexts.
After the approval, the project will commence.

Later

Goodbye for the present; see you later.

After

In the time following (an event or another period of time)
After a while he returned
He'd gone out with his secretary for an after-work drink
Shortly after their marriage they moved to Colorado

Later

Comparative of late

After

Behind
She went out, shutting the door after her

Later

Comparative of late

After

In pursuit or quest of
Chasing after something you can't have

Later

Subsequently; afterward. Often used with on
She arrived on the ferry, and he came later. He later felt that he was wrong. Later on, we watched a movie.

After

Next to and following in order or importance
In their order of priorities health comes after housing

Later

(Informal) Used to express goodbye.

After

In allusion to (someone or something with the same or a related name)
They named her Pauline, after Barbara's mother

Later

Afterward in time (used with than when comparing with another time).
My roommate arrived first. I arrived later.
I arrived later than my roommate.

After

During the period of time following (an event)
Duke Frederick died soon after
Bath time ended in a flood after the taps were left running

Later

At some unspecified time in the future.
I wanted to do it now, but I’ll have to do it later.

After

During the period of time following (an event)
Duke Frederick died soon after
Bath time ended in a flood after the taps were left running

Later

Coming afterward in time (used with than when comparing with another time).
The Victorian era is a later period of English history than the Elizabethan era.

After

Later
He was sorry in after years

Later

Coming afterward in distance (following an antecedent distance as embedded within an adverbial phrase)
I felt some leg pain during the first mile of my run and I strained my calf two miles later .

After

Nearer the stern of a ship
The after cabin

Later

At some time in the future.
The meeting was adjourned to a later date.

After

Behind in place or order
Z comes after Y in the alphabet.

Later

(slang) See you later; goodbye.
Later, dude.

After

Next to or lower than in order or importance.

Later

A brick or tile.

After

In quest or pursuit of
Seek after fame.
Go after big money.

Later

Coming at a subsequent time or stage;
The future president entered college at the age of 16
Awaiting future actions on the bill
Later developments
Without ulterior argument

After

Concerning
Asked after you.

Later

At or toward an end or late period or stage of development;
The late phase of feudalism
A later symptom of the disease
Later medical science could have saved the child

After

Subsequent in time to; at a later time than
Come after dinner.

Later

Happening at a time subsequent to a reference time;
He apologized subsequently
He's going to the store but he'll be back here later
It didn't happen until afterward
Two hours after that

After

Subsequent to and because of or regardless of
They are still friends after all their differences.

Later

At some eventual time in the future;
By and by he'll understand
I'll see you later

After

Following continually
Year after year.

Later

Comparative of the adverb `late';
He stayed later than you did

After

In the style of or in imitation of
Satires after Horace.

After

With the same or close to the same name as; in honor or commemoration of
Named after her mother.

After

According to the nature or desires of; in conformity to
A tenor after my own heart.

After

Past the hour of
Five minutes after three.

After

(Irish) Used with a present participle to indicate action that has just been completed
"Sure I'm after seeing him not five minutes ago" (James Joyce).

After

Behind; in the rear.

After

At a later or subsequent time; afterward
Three hours after.
Departed shortly after.

After

Subsequent in time or place; later; following
In after years.

After

Located near the stern of a vessel or the rear or an aircraft or spacecraft.

After

Following or subsequent to the time that
I saw them after I arrived.

After

Afternoon.

After

Afters Chiefly British Dessert.

After

Behind; later in time; following.
I left the room, and the dog bounded after.
They lived happily ever after.
I might come next month, or the month after.

After

Subsequently to; following in time; later than.
We had a few beers after the game.
The time is quarter after eight.
The Cold War began shortly after WWII.
After you with the salt/paper.
I told her to shut the door after her.

After

Behind.
He will leave a trail of destruction after him.

After

In pursuit of, seeking.
He's after a job; run after him; inquire after her health.

After

In allusion to, in imitation of; following or referencing.
We named him after his grandfather; a painting after Leonardo da Vinci.

After

Next in importance or rank.
The princess is next in line to the throne after the prince.

After

As a result of.
After your bad behaviour, you will be punished.

After

In spite of.
After all that has happened, he is still my friend.
I can't believe that, after all our advice against gambling, you walked into that casino!

After

Used to indicate recent completion of an activity
I was after finishing my dinner when there was a knock on the door.

After

(dated) According to an author or text.

After

Denoting the aim or object; concerning; in relation to.
To look after workmen; to enquire after a friend; to thirst after righteousness

After

(obsolete) According to the direction and influence of; in proportion to; befitting.

After

Signifies that the action of the clause it starts takes place before the action of the other clause.
I went home after we had decided to call it a day.

After

(dated) Later; second (of two); next, following, subsequent

After

At or towards the stern of a ship.
The after gun is mounted aft.
The after gun is abaft the forward gun.

After

Next; later in time; subsequent; succeeding; as, an after period of life.

After

Hinder; nearer the rear.

After

Behind in place; as, men in line one after another.

After

Below in rank; next to in order.
Codrus after Ph bus sings the best.

After

Later in time; subsequent; as, after supper, after three days. It often precedes a clause. Formerly that was interposed between it and the clause.
After I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

After

Subsequent to and in consequence of; as, after what you have said, I shall be careful.

After

Subsequent to and notwithstanding; as, after all our advice, you took that course.

After

Moving toward from behind; following, in search of; in pursuit of.
Ye shall not go after other gods.
After whom is the king of Israel come out?

After

Denoting the aim or object; concerning; in relation to; as, to look after workmen; to inquire after a friend; to thirst after righteousness.

After

In imitation of; in conformity with; after the manner of; as, to make a thing after a model; a picture after Rubens; the boy takes after his father.
Our eldest son was named George after his uncle.

After

According to; in accordance with; in conformity with the nature of; as, he acted after his kind.
He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes.
They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh.

After

According to the direction and influence of; in proportion to; befitting.
He takes greatness of kingdoms according to bulk and currency, and not after their intrinsic value.

After

Subsequently in time or place; behind; afterward; as, he follows after.
It was about the space of three hours after.

After

Located farther aft

After

Happening at a time subsequent to a reference time;
He apologized subsequently
He's going to the store but he'll be back here later
It didn't happen until afterward
Two hours after that

After

Behind or in the rear;
And Jill came tumbling after

Common Curiosities

Can "after" refer to any time not just immediately following an event?

Yes, "after" can refer to any time subsequent to an event, not necessarily immediately following.

Why is "after" important in instructions?

It clarifies the order in which tasks or events should occur, reducing ambiguity.

How does context affect the meaning of "later"?

Additional context can make "later" more specific, such as "later this week."

Can "later" and "after" be used interchangeably?

Sometimes, but they serve different functions; "later" is about future time, while "after" indicates sequence.

Can the use of "later" lead to misunderstandings?

Yes, its vagueness can sometimes lead to confusion about timing.

Is "after" only used for immediate sequences?

No, "after" can refer to any sequence where one event follows another, not just immediate ones.

Does "later" imply a promise or commitment?

It can imply an intention, but not as strong as a specific appointment or schedule.

How does "later" affect planning?

"Later" allows for flexibility in scheduling, as it doesn't specify an exact time.

Is "after" more formal than "later"?

It can be, especially in contexts requiring clarity on the sequence of events.

Is "later" always vague?

Often, but it can be more specific with additional context, e.g., "later in the day."

How can one make "later" more specific?

By adding a time frame or event for reference, e.g., "later this afternoon."

How does "after" help in procedural instructions?

It ensures tasks are completed in the correct order for efficiency or safety.

Can "later" be used in formal documents?

Yes, but it's often better to provide more specific timing in formal contexts.

How does the use of "after" affect comprehension in communication?

It enhances clarity by establishing a clear sequence, making instructions easier to follow.

What is the significance of "later" in casual conversation?

It provides a relaxed approach to timing, suitable for informal interactions.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger
Link
Previous Comparison
Lan vs. Internet
Next Comparison
Boy vs. Brat

Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms