4

What is the difference between when and after in the following examples?

  1. I took my girlfriend to Niagara Falls when we had recently started dating.

  2. I took my girlfriend to Niagara Falls after we had recently started dating.

Which one should I use?

6
+50

The first sentence is correct, but might be clearer if you just rearranged to order of the phrases:

we had recently started dating when I took my girlfriend to Niagara Falls.

recently means 'not long ago' - it is backward-looking.

after means a 'following in time' - it s forward-looking.

The second sentence uses both recently and after. Recently specifies a short period of time in the past, and after specifies an undefined time in the future. If you use both words in the same sentence, it creates a very strange image of the time sequence.

If you particularly want to use after, which is forward-looking, you need to express the short interval between the two events using a forward-looking word like shortly or soon, rather than the backward-looking recently.

I took my girlfriend to Niagara Falls shortly after we had started dating.

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2

Both the sentences seem unusual and unidiomatic.

The conjunction "when" also means at the time that, as soon as, or just after, so the adverb recently is superfluous here in light of these meanings. The sentence should be formed without recently as follows:

I took my girlfriend to Niagara Falls when we had started dating

= I took my girlfriend to Niagara Hills at the time that/just after the time that/as soon as we started dating.

As for the second sentence, the usage of recently in the after-clause also doesn't seem appropriate. Instead, we usually use shortly/just/immediately/soon before after as follows:

I took my girlfriend to Niagara Falls shortly/just/soon/immediately after we (had) started dating.

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-3

So the difference is using when or after. I think the second one makes more sense, but any listener would know what you meant.

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