Using ‘Después’ in Spanish

Word for ‘after’ or ‘later’ can be an adverb, adjective, pronoun, or preposition

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The Spanish word después means "later" or "after" and can be used as a preposition, adverb, adjective, or prepositional object pronoun. The most common use of the word después is as a preposition. The word always has an accent mark over the é.

Después as a Preposition

Después is frequently used in the phrase después de, which functions as a preposition meaning "after." It is followed by a noun, pronoun, or an infinitive acting as a noun.

Spanish Sentence English Translation
Llegamos después de la cena. We're arriving after dinner.
No sé qué sucede después de la muerte. I don't know what happens after death.
Después de la lluvia, empezó una tragedia. After the rain, a tragedy began.
Hay cinco cosas importantes a hacer después de instalar Windows. There are five important things to do after installing Windows.
Este libro cubre temas relacionados con la vida después del tratamiento. This book covers subjects related to life after treatment.
Me gusta el helado después de estudiar. I like ice cream after studying.
Muchos pensamos que después de comer es saludable dar un paseo. Many think that it is health to take a walk after eating.
Mi vida después de ella es bastante tranquila. My life after her is peaceful enough.

Después as an Adverb

Después is a common adverb whose translations include "after," "afterward," "afterwards," "later," "then," and "next." It can be placed either before or after the verb with little if any difference in meaning.

Spanish Sentence English Translation
Después fuimos a la jungla costarricense. Afterwards we went to the Costa Rican jungle.
No sé si voy a verte después. I don't know if I'll see you later.
¿Para qué lavarse los dientes si después voy a comer? Why should I brush my teeth if I'm going to eat later?
Bajé los videos para verlos después. I downloaded the videos in order to watch them later.
Esperaremos unos segundos en la entrada y después saldremos. We will wait a few seconds in the entrance and then we will leave.

The phrase después que can be followed by a verb in either the indicative or subjunctive mood following the normal rules of mood usage.

Spanish Sentence English Translation
Después que vi la película nunca volvé a ver la esclavitud de la misma manera. After I saw the film I never saw enslavement in the same way again.
Después que lleguemos allí, será muy difícil salir. After we arrive there it will be very difficult to leave.
Voy a pelar las papas después que duerma al bebé. I am going to peel the potatoes after I put the baby to sleep.

Después as an Adjective

Después can also function as an invariable adjective, which means it has no plural or gender forms, to convey time periods. It is placed after the noun it refers to.

Spanish Sentence English Translation
Veinte días después, todo ha cambiado. Twenty days later, everything had changed.
Pienso en el día después. I'm thinking about the day afterward. (Alternate translation: I'm thinking about the next day.)
La presidenta tiene mi renuncia un segundo después de que me la pida. The president has my resignation one second after she asks for it.
Casi dos siglos después, un nuevo estudio ha revelado la verdad sobre las víctimas de Jack el Destripador. Almost two centuries later, a new study has revealed the truth about the victims of Jack the Ripper.

Después as a Prepositional Object Pronoun

As a prepositional pronoun, después most often follows para, usually meaning "for."

Spanish Phrase English Translation
No quiero dejar las cosas para después. I don't want to leave the things for later.
Estas son las mejores bebidas para después de hacer ejercicio. These are the best drinks for after exercising.
Jasmín espera hacerlo para después. Jasmín hopes to do it for later.
El plátano es un alimento saciante para después de un entrenamiento extenuante. The plantain is a satisfying food for after a grueling workout.

Common Figurative Uses of Después

Some phrases use después in a figurative way; the expression differs slightly from the literal interpretation.

Spanish Phrase English Translation
Es un mundo pequeño después de todo. It is a small world despite everything.
El momento marcó un antes y un después. The moment marked a turning point.

Key Takeaways

  • Después carries the meaning of "after" or "later" and can be used as several parts of speech.
  • One of the most common uses of después is in the prepositional phrase después de.
  • The phrase después que can be followed by a verb in either the subjunctive or indicative mood.
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Your Citation
Erichsen, Gerald. "Using ‘Después’ in Spanish." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Erichsen, Gerald. (2020, August 27). Using ‘Después’ in Spanish. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "Using ‘Después’ in Spanish." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 26, 2023).

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