I am trying to correctly write the following sentence:

Each chapter takes over where the previous chapter ended.

It sounds slightly messy and unnecessarily long and I suspect it to not be properly formulated. Is there an actual phrase in English with which you can say this properly or in a better way? (I hope the intended meaning is clear: that the chapters a chronological and if read one after another there wouldn't be "holes".)

Three questions about particular details to this example:

  1. Can I replace takes over with continues from or similar?

Each chapter continues from where the previous chapter ended.

  1. Am I correctly using the word previous or should I use former/preceding or other?

Each chapter takes over where the former chapter ended.

Each chapter takes over where the preceding chapter ended.

  1. And can I omit the words ended and where and instead use from without loosing or changing the meaning?

Each chapter takes over from the previous chapter.

  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Let's start where we stopped Feb 6 '19 at 13:30
  • 3
    Your use of previous is fine and these sentences are both grammatical, if a little stilted and over-formal. The reuse of the would "chapter" doesn't help. If you wanted something more casual, you could write, "Each chapter picks up where the previous one left off." Feb 6 '19 at 13:30
  • @CanadianYankee: Snap! Feb 6 '19 at 13:31

I'd be happy with any of your suggestions except:

Each chapter takes over where the former chapter ended.

I feel this is incorrect because "former" is used to describe something that has been replaced or superseded by something else; not things which follow one another sequentially.

There are a few different ways you could express this, such as:

Each chapter picks up where the previous chapter ended.

This means, idiomatically, that the story has been "dropped" at the end of each chapter, and then "picked up" again. This is perhaps used more for serialised stories, such as a series of books or television shows, perhaps not so much chapters of a single book which can be read sequentially without interruption.

Or, you could just say the more succinct:

The chapters are chronological.

(which means that all chapters follow a sequential timeline)


"Takes over" and "continues" are, in this case, reasonably interchangeable. Either could be followed by "from". I'm not sure I would say that the "from" is implicit when it isn't included; there's a certain difference in meaning, at least in theory, but in practice there is no difference in this case.

Don't use "former", because that will generally be taken to mean the previous chapter is no longer a chapter. You can say a mayor takes over from the former mayor, because the previous mayor is no longer mayor at that point (though in the future "will take over", you would say current rather than former).

You might say previous, or preceding, last, or even foregoing. 'Last' is colloquial and may be misunderstood by non-natives; it can mean either "final" or "most recent". 'Foregoing' is absolutely correct, but a slightly esoteric choice of word, so even native speakers might not get what you mean (though they could guess it reasonably from context).

You could also replace 'ended' with "left off" for a more colloquial tone. The 'continues' or 'takes over' could similarly be replaced with "picks up" as a colloquialism.

Alternatively, you could use other phrasings, describing them with an adjective such as 'chronological' or 'sequential', the former meaning that they follow in order related in some way to time, and the latter meaning that they form a sequence, on after the other. You could a shorter, simpler sentence like "one chapter follows on from another".

There are lots of options.

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