Example 1

A: Yesterday, I went to Bob and Mary's wedding. Did you get invited?

B: Really? I was completely clueless about that. Before the wedding, I was at home playing games.

Example 2

A: The guy tripped over a branch and broke his leg. Have you heard of it?

B: Yes. After the incident, I started to be more careful not to trip over things.

When we say something after an "after" or "before," can we say something that does not involve us at all?

For example, the wedding is not my wedding.

The incident is not about me breaking my leg.

  • 1
    When you use a time-based adverbial element, such as your before the wedding / after the incident, it's not necessary for the subject to be directly involved in the wedding / incident / whatever. But there must be some relevance, otherwise there's no point in mentioning it anyway. All well-formed utterances must follow Grice's maxim of relation - where one tries to be relevant, and says things that are pertinent to the discussion. Mar 4 at 11:11

2 Answers 2


Example 2 makes sense, although if the accident was recent a native speaker would probably say since then or since I heard about it, I've started to be more careful....

Example 1 doesn't make sense to me. How is it relevant what B was doing before the wedding? He would probably say "I was at home all day (meaning 'on the day of the wedding') playing games."


When making a comparison to something that was just said, you should generally match the way it was said.

In your first example, "Yesterday I went to the wedding." -> "Yesterday I was home playing games." It's not strictly required, but repeating the pattern is a good way to emphasize the differences.

Your first example also sounds especially awkward because doesn't really follow from the line before either. It is not connected to the activity (you didn't go to the wedding), and it's not contrasting with it either (you did something else at a different time). It's all grammatically correct, but it is a sudden change of topic, which comes off as mildly rude:

A: [proposes a topic]

B: Oh really? [talks about something totally different]

Your second example is subtly different, and reads much better:

A: "Did you hear about ____?"

B: "Yes! _____ affected me too!"

Here, your use of "after" implies a connection that was missing in the first example, so the conversation continues more naturally.

Although it parses fine, "the incident" sounds slightly odd, because "incident" is often used with a touch of irony to refer to some past bad thing that will not be explained. For example, the old, popular comic strip Calvin & Hobbes referred to "The Noodle Incident" to explain why Calvin was not allowed to do some things, but never explained what had happened during The Noodle Incident. Instead try "After that happened," or "after I heard about it."

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .