This might be an effortless question but I really can't understand a grammatical aspect of it.

____ I arrived home, I put on my pyjamas and I lay down on the sofa. I was exhausted and I wasn’t very hungry.

I need to figure out based on the context what word is missing. My answer is simple - After. Which is wrong. Since I'm not a native speaker I translate the sentence word-for-word. May be that's the problem, because I can't think in English, however, I don't see how 'after I arrived home' can be a mistake.

The right answer is 'as soon as', which means 'when'. 'When' is perfectly fine for me, but why 'after' doesn't fit here. Is there any special grammatical rule for that type on sentences?

  • 5
    There's nothing wrong with after in the cited context - it's just a less common alternative to when. And as soon as means essentially the same thing, but with emphasis on the fact that there was no delay. The only "rule" to be learned here seems to be that an awful lot of "English tests" for non-native Anglophones on the Internet are a waste of time. Commented Jun 19, 2023 at 23:55
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    After, when, as soon as. All of these are perfectly fine. There isn't a single correct answer here.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 0:33
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    @FumbleFingers that's what I thought. Thanks! I even checked the BNC to make sure I'm not that ignorant to not know such basics xD English online-tests sometimes really confuse me, but I can't find any good alternative to practice grammar. I'd be happy to get some advice! Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 0:48
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    Well, your English seems good enough that you should be able to read at least some books written in English without having to constantly look things up. Tip: don't look words up just because you don't know (exactly) what they mean; only look something up if not knowing it prevents you getting the gist of the entire containing paragraph. I also suggest you stick to books less than a century old, that you find interesting. And learn from things like the correcting edits @tchrist made to your question text! That's worth much more than the silly test you're actually asking about here! Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 1:46
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    The question is poorly designed if it doesn't give you narrower options. There are many things that could fill that blank
    – gotube
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 2:01

1 Answer 1


I agree with folks in the comments, as a native speaker (American English), any of the following words or phrases would sound natural in the blank:

  • After
  • Once
  • As soon as
  • When

These all mean the same thing in this context.

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