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Difference Between Afterward or Afterwards

Afterward or Afterwards

When it comes to understanding the nuances of English language, even small variations like “afterward” and “afterwards” can spark curiosity. Both terms are adverbs, commonly used to indicate a sequence in time or events. While they are often used interchangeably in casual conversation, there are subtle differences in their usage and context that are worth exploring.

Part of SpeechAdverbAdverb
DefinitionRefers to a time or event that follows anotherSimilar to “afterward,” but often considered more formal or literary
OriginMiddle EnglishMiddle English
Common UsageUsed more commonly in American EnglishPreferred in British English
VariantsAfterward (less common variant in American English)
Meaning and usage of afterward

Difference Between “Afterward” and “Afterwards”

Definition of Afterward

"Afterward" is an adverb that denotes a time or event that follows another. It's typically used to indicate what happens following a particular action or event. For instance, "He went home afterward" implies that going home occurred following a preceding event.

Definition of Afterwards

"Afterwards" shares the same definition as "afterward," serving as an adverb to indicate subsequent events or times. The primary difference lies in its usage context, being more prevalent in British English and often perceived as slightly more formal or literary.

Origin of Afterward

The term “afterward” finds its roots in Middle English, evolving from the phrase “afterwarder” which meant ‘more toward the rear’ or ‘later in time.’ This term has been simplified and streamlined over time to its current form.

Origin of Afterwards

Similarly, “afterwards” also originates from Middle English. It is derived from the Old English word “æfterweardes,” which translates to ‘after’ or ‘behind.’ Over time, it has been adapted to its current usage and spelling.


  • Afterward: Pronounced /ˈæf.tər.wərd/, this term emphasizes a clear, concise sound without an additional ‘s’ at the end.
  • Afterwards: This is pronounced /ˈæf.tər.wərdz/, with a noticeable ‘s’ sound at the end, distinguishing it from “afterward.”

Comparing Afterward and Afterwards

While both “afterward” and “afterwards” are correct and interchangeable in many contexts, their usage can vary based on geographical location and stylistic preference. “Afterward” is more commonly used in American English, whereas “afterwards” is the preferred form in British English. This difference, however, does not impact the meaning or comprehension of a sentence.

Usage in Sentences with Explanations

Use of Afterward in Sentences

  1. After the movie, we went out for dinner. – Here, “afterward” indicates what happened following the movie.
  2. She cleaned up the kitchen and took a nap afterward. – Demonstrates a sequence of actions.
  3. He said he would call me afterward, but he never did. – “Afterward” is used to refer to a time following a specific event.
  4. Afterward, we realized we had forgotten our bags at the restaurant. – Shows a realization occurring after a preceding event.
  5. The lecture was boring, but the discussion afterward was interesting. – Contrasts two different time periods, highlighting the interest in the latter part.

Use of Afterwards in Sentences

  1. We decided to go for a walk afterwards. – Indicates a plan for a time following a prior event.
  2. Afterwards, she understood why the decision was made. – Refers to gaining understanding subsequent to an event.
  3. The concert was great, and the meet-and-greet afterwards was even better. – Shows an event following immediately after another.
  4. He mentioned that he would be busy afterwards. – “Afterwards” here refers to the time following the current conversation.
  5. Afterwards, the streets were deserted. – Paints a picture of a scenario following another event (e.g., a festival or gathering).
Usage of Afterwards


In conclusion, “afterward” and “afterwards” are both correct and functionally similar, differing primarily in regional usage and slight stylistic nuances. “Afterward” is more common in American English, while “afterwards” is preferred in British English. Understanding these nuances enhances one’s ability to use these terms appropriately in different contexts.

Commonly Asked Questions

  1. Is one form more correct than the other?
    • No, both “afterward” and “afterwards” are correct. The choice between them often depends on regional preferences or stylistic considerations.
  2. Can “afterward” and “afterwards” be used interchangeably?
    • Yes, in most cases, they can be used interchangeably without altering the meaning of a sentence.
  3. Do “afterward” and “afterwards” have the same meaning?
    • Yes, they both refer to a time or event that follows another. The difference is largely in their usage across different forms of English.


What is the difference between “afterward” and “afterwards”?

There is no difference in meaning between the two words. Both can be used interchangeably to mean “at a later time.”

How are “afterward” and “afterwards” used in a sentence?

Both words can be used to describe events that occur one after the other or events that are widely separated in time. For example, “Jane went to church and then attended the coffee hour held afterward/afterwards.”

Is there a regional preference for using “afterward” or “afterwards”?

Yes, there is a general regional preference. “Afterward” is more commonly used in North America, while “afterwards” is more commonly used in British English and Canadian English.

Can I use either “afterward” or “afterwards” based on personal preference?

Yes, ultimately, the choice between the two words comes down to personal preference. Use the form that sounds better to you in your writing.

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, writer at, blends creativity with insight, exploring technology, culture, and psychology. With a background in English Literature, she crafts engaging stories inspired by nature and urban life. Outside writing, she enjoys exploring and continuous learning.View Author posts

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