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Do

They visited Brighton, after which they went to Northern Ireland

and

They visited Brighton, which they went to Northern Ireland after

have the same meaning?

And does it mean, visiting Brighton, they went to Northern Ireland?

  • It oughtn't be a preposition that you finish your sentence on. Or with. – Victor Bazarov Sep 22 '15 at 18:48
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    The first sentence is more correct than the second one. It means that they first visited Brighton. After they visited Brighton, they visited Northern Ireland – Jason Stout Sep 22 '15 at 19:02
  • @VictorBazarov Considering that your sentences end with prepositions, I'm not sure whether you were joking. Even if you were though, for those that might follow such advice, the "rule" that says it's grammatically incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition (stranded preposition) is actually a myth. – John B Sep 22 '15 at 20:07
  • It's OK with some and especially so if it's a prepositional verb. The "myth" is not debunked in that article. It's restated and claimed as such, and a humorous illustration given, no more. Depends on whether you subscribe to "descriptive grammar" or "prescriptive". It's not completely inconceivable that "after which" could be split similarly to what the OP has in the second example, but it just doesn't sound at all understandable. – Victor Bazarov Sep 22 '15 at 20:21
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    @VictorBazarov Oh, I agree that the second example is not correct. It's just that it is incorrect for other reasons than the dubious stranded preposition rule. – John B Sep 22 '15 at 20:39
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The second sentence:

They visited Brighton, which they went to Northern Ireland after

makes no sense to me. I would expect:

They visited Brighton and went to Northern Ireland afterwards.

To go to a place means to visit a place. You can substitute go to for the verb visit.

Did you visit Northern Ireland?

Did you go to Northern Ireland?

They visited Northern Ireland, which they went to, after seeing Brighton.

They went to Northern Ireland, which they visited after seeing Brighton.

They went to Brighton, after which they visited Northern Ireland.

They went to Brighton and went on to Northern Ireland after(wards). without the relative "which"

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Normally, a "preposition relative pronoun" (eg after which, to whom, by what) can be broken up and the preposition moved to the end of the clause, eg

This is the entry after which it came/which it came after

That is the person to whom I spoke/who I spoke to

and the latter form is much more common in speech than the former.

But in your example, this doesn't work, and I'm not entirely sure why.

After which can quite happily refer to the whole of the (action of the) preceding clause or sentence. But if you split them, as in your second example, which cannot easily refer to the whole predicate, but looks for a noun phrase (and here finds only "Brighton").

So your second sentence is not natural. But I cannot fully account for why not.

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