Difference Between Afterward and Subsequently (With Table)

The two words Afterward and Subsequently are quite similar to each other, both of them mean ‘later’ and ‘after’, but when we look a little more closely we can see that the words do differ from each other slightly. For example, subsequently is much formal compared to the word afterward and may represent some cause and effect relationship with the event that has happened before.

Afterward vs Subsequently

The main difference between Afterward and Subsequently is that subsequently denotes that an event has taken place much after the preceding event, there could be a slight time gap between the first event and the second event, whereas the term afterward means that the event has taken place after an event.

Afterward is an American word meaning later or after. It is a word that we use when we have to explain that an event has occurred just after the other and sometimes even when it has happened much later. It is an adverb of the noun ‘afterword’. And its British synonym ‘afterwards’ is also widely in use.

Subsequently is an adverb that means after something else. The word subsequently is used when we have to explain something that has happened after an event or when something follows something else in time, in a formal way. It is derived from a Latin word and its noun ‘subsequent’ means ‘coming after something’ or ‘the act of following something’.

Comparison Table Between Afterward and Subsequently

ParametersAfterwardSubsequently
OrginOld EnglishLatin
First known useIn 13th centuryIn 1537
Formal or informalIn comparison, informalMuch more formal than Afterward
Event occurrenceJust after the other and sometimes even laterAfter some time gap between them
Cause and Effect relationshipmay or may not represent some cause or effect relationshipmay represent some cause or effect relationship
Logical connectionmay or may not have a logical connectionImply a logical connection

What is Afterward?

Afterward is an English word that has been in use for a very long time. It means later, or after something. It came from the words ‘æftan’ (Old English), which means ‘behind,’ ‘from behind,’ ‘farthest back,’ and ward (English).

In British and Canadian English, ‘afterward’ is used as ‘afterwards,’ and there is no known difference between the meanings of the two terms. Afterward is a term that allows us to express an event that must have occurred after another event or an event that will occur after another event in the future.

‘Afterward’ is an adverb that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or another adverb. It is similar in meaning with later, after, or next. If something is done afterward, it means that thing has happened after an event or time that must have been mentioned already.

Some examples of the usage of the word ‘afterward’:

  1. We should study so that we can play afterward.
  2. We will first watch the movie and then eat food afterward.
  3. My family consisted of my father and mother, one older brother, and, afterward, a little sister, Sarah.
  4. Afterward, she smiled gently at the recollection of the memory, and then she went to the kitchen.

What is Subsequently?

Subsequently is an adverb that means ‘after a particular thing that has happened.’ It is similar to words like, ‘later,’ ‘by and by,’ ‘next,’ ‘then’ etc. It has come directly from the Latin word ‘subsequentem’ which means ‘come after in time,’ ‘follow closely,’ etc. 

It is an English word that comes under the top 1 percent of the most common words used by people. We use the word ‘subsequently’ to describe an event that has happened after the preceding event, the event usually has a cause and effect relationship. They are logically connected, for example, when we mention a flood and subsequent deaths that take place due to it. 

The word ‘subsequently’ is used in formal conversations and its noun ‘subsequent’ means ‘coming after something in time, following.’ Something which is ‘subsequent’ means it follows something in time, order, or place.

Some examples of the usage of the word ‘subsequently’ are:

  1. I ran off to Delhi with my friend but I subsequently discovered that he was only interested in my money.
  2. It was understandable that people who subsequently followed us didn’t know who we were.
  3. Subsequently, he showed us his oratory skills and won the competition.
  4. They were subsequently returned to their homes.

Main Differences Between Afterward and Subsequently

  1. Afterward came from Old English whereas Subsequently came from a Latin word.
  2. The first known use of ‘afterward’ happened in the 13th century whereas the first known use of ‘subsequently’ happened in 1537.
  3. The word ‘subsequently’ gives a much more formal tone than the word ‘afterward.’
  4. ‘Afterward’ may or may not denote a cause or effect relationship between the two events, whereas ‘subsequently’ denotes a cause and effect relationship between the events.
  5. ‘Afterward’ is used to where the events have happened just after the other whereas ‘subsequently’ is used when the events have occurred after some time gap between them.

Conclusion

Although the two terms ‘afterward’ and ‘subsequently’ both mean the same thing, that is, later or after something that has happened earlier, and are both adverbs. There are some differences between them like, their origins, one came from Old English while the other came from a Latin word. The time they first came to use in, one from 13th century while the other from 16th and the slight time gap that is there when things happen ‘subsequently.’

The word ‘subsequently’ gives more of a formal tone than the word ‘afterward.’ They both are under the top one percent of words that are most commonly used by people. Many people use them interchangeably as both the words are not very different from each other and even when there are a few differences, they are slight, which most people ignore.

References

  1. https://journals.lww.com/jcnjournal/fulltext/2009/07000/a_qualitative_descriptive_study_of_the_work_of.9.aspx
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1021223618666
  3. http://hjs.ff.cuni.cz/archives/v11_1/essays/pollock.htm