I was analysing the word "once" and noticed that mostly at the beginning of a sentence it is a conjunction and at the middle or end it's mostly an adverb. However, if a comma is placed after "once" at the beginning of a sentence it becomes an adverb. Here are examples of "once" as an adverb:

  • Once, I made a cake from meat.
  • I made a cake from meat once.

And as a conjunction:

  • Once you get there, call me.

I wish to ask if the word "since" can work the same way. The way I see it, it can't work as an adverb at the beginning of a sentence with a comma after it.

  • I haven't been there since.
  • Since, I haven't been there.

As a conjunction:

  • Since you won't do it, you will not get money for it.

I also wonder if the word "after" can be an adverb at the beginning of a sentence.

  • 1
    No, a since followed by a comma is a no-go. Also, please note once in initial position followed by a verb merely means when. Once you get there=When you get there. Please also note: I haven't been there since [implies since then]. In initial position, therefore, one would actually put it in: Since then, I haven't been there.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 15:31
  • And what part of speech is then in this case? In this case, please confirm that Ever since is possible thus too. Commented May 29, 2017 at 15:42
  • since or since then are adverbs of time. Yes: Ever since [then is implied], I haven't been there. These implied things are really a bitch in English. :)
    – Lambie
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 15:52
  • 1
    After the party, after the event. BUT speech marked as uneducated might say: After [that implied], I didn't go there no more [instead of anymore]. So, after + the or a + noun or verb but: afterwards can be used with nothing else. Afterwards, we left.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 15:54

1 Answer 1


Short answer

  • Once can function as an adverb, adjective, conjunction or noun
  • Since yes, can also function as adverb. Since can also function as a conjunction or preposition
  • After can function as a preposition, adverb, adjective noun and conjunction

Long answer

You are correct in the overlap between once and since, they can both function as adverbs and conjunctions.


  • [Once I made] a cake from meat or [I once made] a cake from meat - once is the adverb describing the verb 'to make'. The description is that it was made in the past tense, hence the past participle usage of 'to make'. Once describes a single isolated instance in the past.
  • [Since I made] a cake from meat I felt ill or I made a cake from meat and have been feeling ill [since I made it] - since is the adverb describing the verb 'to make'. Since can link the past to the present, implying that you still feel ill

Note that since is the adverb of the verb "to make", but in the sentence "I made a cake from meat and have been feeling ill since I made the cake from meat" there are a lot of unnecessary duplicate words. This can be shortened to "ever since", "ever since then", "since then", "since that time". However, the word still functions as an adverb of made, linking that time with now. The phrase "I since made a cake" is not used because there is no way to link then and now. You need to say "since the time I made a cake from meat" - "I felt ill".


  • Call me [once] you get there - same as above, linking the phrases in a finite sense.
  • He has been calling me [since] he got there - same as above, linking the phrases in a continuous sense. He has called me and he is still trying calling me.


This indicates a spatial, temporal, or other relationship. Since and After can both be used to indicate a temporal location.

  • Since that time, since yesterday, since breakfast
  • After that time, after tomorrow, after lunch

Again, since implies a past event that is still continuing and as such is often used with the Past, present and future perfect continuous tenses

Once however, does not really get used as a preposition because another preposition is often inserted to be more specific. For example, the prepositions are in bold:

  • Once upon a time
  • Once in my life
  • Once on the planet earth

So to conclude, there are similarities between once and since, both describe time but once is finite and since is continuous.

I always thought of after as a straight forward preposition but looking at the dictionary definition it is indeed quite versatile and can be used as an adverb as well. "After I made the cake I felt ill". In this context it would mean "immediately after".


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