In the book Diplomacy: A Very Short Introduction by By Joseph M. Siracusa, we find the following passage:

Prior to World War II, then, diplomacy was essentially a government-to-government relationship, in the sense that Foreign Diplomatic Officers were discouraged from participating in the domestic or foreign policies of the state in which they exercised their function.

Does then in this context equal "after that time" or "before that time"?

As far as I have studied, then can mean:

  • at that time; at the time in question. "I was living in Cairo then" at that time, in those days, at that point (in time), at that moment, on that occasion
  • after that; next; afterward. "she won the first and then the second game" next, after that, afterward/afterwards, subsequently, later in that case;
  • therefore. "if you do what I tell you, then there's nothing to worry about" in that case, that being so, it follows that
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    Hi @yorgun. I want to invite you, and everyone commenting/answering/voting here, to participate in this meta
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


You need to look at the preceding sentence in your source:

Thus, diplomatic personnel from abroad had no formal relations with the public at large in the receiving state.

What follows is a further expanding of this thought: therefore, as a result diplomacy was a government-to-government relationship.

In other words, it is your third definition in play, and is not a reference to time.

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    The question is not suitable for ELU and should not be answered. Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 22:34
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    @EdwinAshworth The question provides context, cites and links it's quote, shows research into the possible meanings of then, and is actually about English. If you have a good reason it should not be answered you owe it to us to at least say what your reason is. Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 0:54
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    @CandiedOrange (1) It cites 1 of its (note the spelling) 3 or 4 quotes. // (2) The setting off of 'then' by two commas and its being in non-initial position indicates the 'therefore / thus // we are saying' usage, a pragmatic / 'comment clause' parenthetical replaceable by 'therefore' (or in other contexts 'we are saying'); OP does not even entertain the 'therefore' possibility. Admittedly ODO's example might be better. But the question, when adjusted, is in my opinion more suited to ELL. Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 7:38
  • ... A question starting 'Here are some examples of the use of non-temporal then ... Can someone explain more clearly the different ways it is used, for instance where in the sentence it may occur, what context is needed, with what accompanying punctuation ...? would obviously not be ELL standard. Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 8:10

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