I'd like a single word to ask someone whether something happened 'before or after' whatever it is we're talking about.

Occurring comes to mind but then you always say, did this occur before or after that?

When is too descriptive and asks for a specific time.

  • So you are after a single word meaning "temporal direction" rather than "not at the same time"?
    – smithkm
    Mar 15, 2014 at 10:47
  • "temporal direction". Whether or not something was hitherto or after the fact.
    – Mazura
    Mar 15, 2014 at 11:05
  • What's wrong with "Did thing A occur before thing B or after it?"
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 18, 2015 at 1:25
  • @HotLicks That uses even more words. I seek something along the lines of: Oh, yea? Was that before or after you [snarky comment].
    – Mazura
    Apr 18, 2015 at 1:32
  • 1
    @Lawrence - applicable answers are before, after and simultaneously. "Sequence" is a good one...
    – Mazura
    Dec 8, 2015 at 3:10

8 Answers 8


Order or chronology are around the mark.

The events occurred in what order ?

What was the chronology of the events?

But the answer might not be "A was before/after...", but rather "first A, then..."


Nonconcurrent antonym of concurrent: occurring or existing simultaneously or side by side

Asynchronous: not occurring at the same time.

Then it becomes general reference:

Allochronic used in biology to describe life forms lining in different geologic times.

  • these are great words but how would you use them to say: "Was that before or after you read that?"
    – Mazura
    Mar 15, 2014 at 3:13
  • I wouldn't use it in that context, but if I did and needed a single word, I would more likely ask "Was that concurrent with your having read that?" The answer might be "It was not concurrent." A report might say "He told me it was nonconcurrent with his reading that." In another context, you could say "The processor performs these tasks asynchronously. They are nonconcurrent tasks." Mar 15, 2014 at 3:28
  • I think you are looking for 'when'
    – Mou某
    Mar 15, 2014 at 8:26
  • 'when' implies I want the specific date as opposed to just wanting to know its place in the timeline.
    – Mazura
    Mar 15, 2014 at 10:59

Relate might be appropriate here.

And, how does this change in attitude relate to your having read Eat, Pray, Love?

While it doesn't exclusively apply to the temporal relationship, it should elicit the answer you require without having to add in "before or after".

Similarly, correspond.

You can cure the ambiguity by adding the word temporally.

How does this change relate temporally to your having read . . .

But, I think it sounds clunky, and is likely unnecessary unless you need to make it absolutely clear.


Informally, Did it happen "pre- or post-" the big game ? I think in this case the prefixes together to form an idiom. Not one word, of course.


I think you were looking for something like "approximately when" so they can give you an approximate chronology.

From the Oxford dictionary

approximate: - (as an adjective) Close to the actual, but not completely accurate or exact.

-(verb with object) Estimate or calculate a quantity fairly accurately

The other option I have would be to refer to this as Janus. "Was this janus (before and/or after) to reading of X". Janus was a Roman god of many contradicting things and transitions. Typically things are said to be janus if they are antonyms or are ambivalent. However Janus also represented the perception of past and future as well as the transition from one to the other so it would also fit in this context, although virtually no one would know what you are talking about.


further can give this meaning depending on how you use it in a sentence, though it is usually used either to mean before or after, not both of them.

2 past a certain point

b. used when saying how long before or after a particular time something is

There is "no further than" usage also.


How about "When did ___ happen relative to _____?"

Not quite "one word", but closer...


You can ask for the sequence (noun definitions 1 and 2) or order (noun definition 4) in which the events occurred.

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