Afterward(s) and Afterword

Commonly Confused Words

Ernest Hemingway, from a draft of the ending to A Farewell to Arms (1920).

The words afterward and afterword are homophones (or near homophones): they sound alike but have different meanings.

Definitions

The adverb afterward (or afterwards*) means at a later or subsequent time.

The noun afterword is another word for epilogue--the concluding section of a text.

* Afterward (like backward, downward, upward, inward, outward, and toward) may be used with or without a final -s. (See the usage note below.)

Examples

  • We enjoyed a large dinner and afterward had coffee and a gooey dessert.
  • It's not the election itself but what happens afterwards that concerns me.
  • In a thoughtful afterword, King suggests that he intends the novel as a warning against "the consequences of political extremism."


Usage Note

  • There's no difference in meaning between afterward and afterwards. In American English, afterward is more common. In British English and Canadian English, afterwards is more common.
    - "The Thunder fans, bedecked in matching blue T-shirts, roared when Durant scored the game’s first points. The arena practically shook when he soared for a dunk soon afterward."
    (The New York Times, May 28, 2016)
    - " George Ford has already had a tricky month and contrived to miss six of his seven attempted kicks at goal in perfect conditions. Jones defended his fly-half afterwards, pointing out that Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan also had their occasional off-days."
    (The Guardian [UK], May 29, 2016)

    Practice

    (a) "Churchill summoned a Royal Air Force band and instructed them to play as loud as possible all through dinner and  _____."
    (David McCullough, Truman, 1992)

    (b) The revised edition of Nelson's book contains a new _____ on hurricane Katrina's devastation of the city.

    (c) In a short time she was promoted to manager, and soon _____ she was made president of the company.

    Answers to Practice Exercises

    Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words
     

    200 Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs

    Answers to Practice Exercise: Afterward(s) and Afterword

    (a) "Churchill summoned a Royal Air Force band and instructed them to play as loud as possible all through dinner and afterward."
    (David McCullough, Truman, 1992)

    (b) The revised edition of Nelson's book contains a new afterword on hurricane Katrina's devastation of the city.

    (c) In a short time she was promoted to manager, and soon afterward(s) she was made president of the company.

    Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

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    Your Citation
    Nordquist, Richard. "Afterward(s) and Afterword." ThoughtCo, Mar. 7, 2017, thoughtco.com/afterwards-and-afterword-1689292. Nordquist, Richard. (2017, March 7). Afterward(s) and Afterword. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/afterwards-and-afterword-1689292 Nordquist, Richard. "Afterward(s) and Afterword." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/afterwards-and-afterword-1689292 (accessed May 22, 2018).