Can I use "after that' and "then" Interchangeably in the following sentences?

1- Hey John, first clean your room, then/after that complete your homework. 

2- He was first trained as a secretary and then/after that he got a job.

3- Yesterday I went to the market, then/after that I returned home and started cooking for my parents.

  • The underlying meaning is the same. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 5 '17 at 13:35
  • Yes meaning are same, basically after that is used for first time & then is used for second time and onwards... – Chirag Jain Nov 5 '17 at 15:00
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    I feel like sentence 2 is the only one where "after that" would work, unless you add the word "and" before "after that". But correct me if I'm wrong. – Daniel G Nov 6 '17 at 1:07

I agree with Daniel G. "Then" works for me as a conjunction, and "after that" doesn't. But it feels like a marginal case. Combining them, as in:

Hey John, first clean your room, then after that complete your homework.

Would sound fine to me in conversational speech, as would "and after that," because you're introducing a conjunction.

If you change the comma to a period or semicolon, "after that" works fine. Sentence 2 is also correct, because it has the conjunction "and," but I'd like to see a comma before the conjunction.

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  • Even though I am not the asker, thank you for the helpful explanation. But, in your writing, is as would "and after that," correct? Doesn't it have to be as "and after that" would,? – Smart Humanism May 3 '18 at 14:28
  • The two things that I am concerned with are the position of the comma being before the quotation mark and the order of words where the subject "and after that" is placed after would. – Smart Humanism May 3 '18 at 14:55
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    Good question. as "and after that" would would be very unnatural English. In English, when you're indicating similarity with a phrase beginning with "as" + verb/auxiliary (e.g., "as is," "as was," "as would"), they tend to act as a set phrase that doesn't want to be separated. e.g.: "I'm a firefighter, as is my sister" sounds correct, but "I'm a firefighter, as my sister is," is very odd. Hope this helps, and you might consider asking it as a question, because it's a good one. – mamster May 3 '18 at 16:30
  • Thank you very much for the great comment. Your comment is very clear and gives a very neat answer. – Smart Humanism May 3 '18 at 17:18

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