3

I'm wondering the sentences below are grammatically correct or not.

A : It is three days "after" that Sumi's midterm exam will be over

B : It is three days "later" that Sumi's midterm exam will be over

I think using 'later' in A is right but how about 'after'?

4
  • 1
    Please include the source of the sentence and context where they would be used.
    – user140086
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 5:03
  • It is uhm.. a translation from another language to english. So no special usage
    – fbg
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 10:58
  • 1
    Did you translate it yourself? Your question hasn't received any attention at all. You could consider using this site.
    – user140086
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 11:03
  • While both are valid, a more common way to say this is "Sumi's midterm exam will be over in 3 days". if you are instead referencing a previously mentioned point in time, sentence A commonly uses a subject with it, such as "After Sunday" or "After that" when speaking of a point in time previously mentioned. It's not uncommon to have a sentence contain "That that". Sentence A would make more sense like this: "It is three days after that that Sumi's midterm exam will be over". It usually helps to imagine a short pause between the 1st "that" and the 2nd "that" Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 21:13

2 Answers 2

4

"After" does not necessarily imply time. It can imply any kind of order: in time, in space, or any kind of sequence. For example, you can say that "Rob was after Sarah in the cafeteria line" or "Z comes after A in the English alphabet."

"Later" does imply time. You can say, "5 o'clock is later than 4 o'clock" and "She saw me later in the day." You would not say "Z is later than A in the English alphabet."

So in that sense, both or your example sentence use "later" and "after" correctly, since after can imply time (as well as space or sequence). However, the second construction sounds better to my ear. It's hard for me to say why. It may be related to the mixing of tenses in the sentences. They start with present tense ("It is...") but end with future tense ("...will be..."), so using the word "later" is more specific and helps make the temporal meaning of the sentence clearer.

1
  • I think that "After" also requires a subject to be tied to it to make sense, which is why sentence A sounds weird, since it omits a subject to be "after". "3 days after what?", I would ask. I don't think this is a hard and fast rule, though, just a cultural norm. "Later" usually takes hold of the last point in time mentioned OR the current point in time. Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 21:09
1

COMMENT
Neither example is natural, so I have trouble actually understanding the author's intended meaning. The first strange thing is the "it is" construction rather than using a regular subject (Sumi's exam?); the second is the "will be over" phrase--does the author intend to express the idea of completion, or is this an unidiomatic attempt to express the idea "take place"?

I think the intended meaning could be any of the following.

  1. Sumi's midterm exam will take place in three days.
  2. Sumi's midterm exam will take place three days after T.
  3. Sumi's midterm exam will take place three days later.

  4. Sumi's midterm exam will be over in three days.

  5. Sumi's midterm exam will be over three days later.


ANALYSIS
All sentences take "Sumi's midterm exam" as the subject.

Sentences 1-3 use "take place" in case the point is to say when the exam occurs.

Sentences 4 & 5 use "be over" if the point is to emphasise that the exam will have passed by a certain time.

Sentence 1 uses "in" to show that the exam will take place three days from the present date (i.e. the time of utterance).

Sentence 2 uses "after" in case the intention is to give an additional time reference (T). (E.g. "Sumi's midterm exam will take place three days after my birthday")

Sentence 3 uses "later" in case the time reference has already been made previous to this sentence. (E.g. "I'm going to fly back on Sunday. Suni's midterm exam will take place three days later.")

Sentence 4 uses "in" to show that the exam will be over three days from now.

Sentence 5 uses "later" like Sentence 3, i.e. the time reference has already been made. (E.g. "I'm going to fly back on Sunday. Suni's midterm exam will be over three days later.")


NOTES
What you need to bear in mind is that "after" joins two elements, either two clauses or a clause and a time noun (event).

  • After he went home, I found his book on the seat.
  • After my bath, I'll go to bed.

"Later" basically functions as an adverb (whatever that is) and is synonymous with "afterward(s)". It is parasitic on a point in time that is implicit or has already been expressed.

  • He went home, and I made dinner. Later, I found his book.
  • I don't have time now: I'll do it later.

"In" shows that something will happen at the end of a time period starting now.

  • We’re going to start our English class in two weeks.

If the time period started in the past, we normally use "later", and sometimes "after".

  • They met each other in college. Two months later, they were married.
  • They met each other in college. After two months, they were married.

If the sentence is in a historic present tense, as in a colloquial recounting of a story, you can also use "later" and "after".

  • "So I go into the coffee shop and order an espresso. Ten minutes later, I still haven't got it. I order again, and again. In the end, I have to speak to the manager. Finally, after about twenty minutes, they bring me three!"

I'm guessing that these words coordinate with time rather than tense. In the last example, we don't use "in" because that would suggest the present time extending into the future; the fact that we're using the present tense is irrelevant.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.