Is the expression "follow after", e.g; "He followed after her", grammatically incorrect or an awkward phrasing? I use the phrase "follow after" to put an emphasis on the action, it also gives me a subtle impression of dependence, as if, the subject is following the other person either very closely or is "following at the heels" of that person, and if they had lingered in the previous room, for instance, they'd run to catch that person.

I have googled my issue, and found one site (wordreference.com) with a thread on this and with various answers. I'm also guessing that the answer technically lies in the definition of "follow". However, I kept seeing this phrase used several times in different books, and I have been using it myself.

I have seen that it might be:

  • Sloppy English. Yet numerous works seem to use it? I wouldn't have picked up on it, otherwise.
  • Might indicate tagging along
  • Might imply following someone without their knowledge.

As you can see, I've interpreted this phrase completely differently. I have also seen that "follow" is a statement of sequence in space or time and follow after is a statement of volition, of active pursuit (which contradicts with the statement that it implies following someone without their knowledge).

Could you guys offer some clarifications and a final say on what follow/follow after actually mean/imply?

  • 1
    You need to include several of the actual sentences from the books you mention. 'Follow' has more than one sense. Oct 31, 2019 at 17:53
  • Most of the early examples of 'followed after' I've found in a quick search are from the AV, and are just (in my opinion an archaic) synonym for 'followed'. Certain prepositions are sometimes optional with certain verbs: She brushed [against] the fence. They appealed [against] the decision. / The 'succeeded' sense of course complicates. Oct 31, 2019 at 18:02
  • 1
    "followed after" usually means "came later, in a similar role". Aug 19, 2020 at 11:08

1 Answer 1


He followed her.

He followed after her.

I think they have two meanings — one literal and the other metaphorical.

He followed her means he was behind her in walking or in life.

He followed after her means he followed her in walking literally and idiomatically it means took over charge from her, succeeded, superseded, or replaced her in a position .

Follow after is found in the King James version of the Bible.

Here is a Link


Here is a link which helps you know the difference.


  • 1
    No. "He followed after her" does not say either that he overtook her or that he overcame her. Either you are misunderstanding the phrase, or you are misunderstanding the words "overtake" and "overcome".
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 31, 2019 at 17:14
  • That is a different sense of 'follow after', meaning something like 'to be the next one in a list'. Oct 31, 2019 at 17:25
  • @ colin Fine.You are right.I have edited my answer.Thank you. Oct 31, 2019 at 17:27
  • Follow after sounds a little strange. But, suppose, A, B and C followed X, in the same order, one can say, B followed after A; or C followed after B.
    – Ram Pillai
    Nov 1, 2019 at 3:03

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