In a book, I came across the phrase: 'February is after January.' I was wondering if the usage of 'is after' is correct in that sentence. Is it better to use 'February comes after January'?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, 'be after something' means 'to be looking for someone or something or trying to find or get them or it.'"

That is why one can say 'The police are after me,' what means the police are chasing him.

Thank you in advance!

  • 2
    The context will indicate if "be after" is used literally as in your first example, or as an expression, as you have found in the dictionaries. Nothing wrong though with saying that in an enumeration or list an item is after another, although comes after may be more idiomatic.
    – fev
    Commented Apr 19 at 11:57

1 Answer 1


Both are correct. "Be after" has two senses:

  1. to pursue, as in "the police were after him"
  2. to come after, as in "February is after January". (You can say "February comes after January" too.

I am from the UK and would be more likely to say "February is after January" (it never occurred to me to associate it with the other meaning of "be after" - thank you for the interesting poetic possibilities that creates!)

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