Usage of 'later'


I met him 2 hours later. VS. I met him after 2 hours.


Do you experts feel any difference in meaning between them? Thank you so much as usual for your time and help and have a good day.


And I have learned that 'later' cannot be used with present or future tenses, like 


I will meet him 2 days later and come to think of it, it is not possible to use it with present tenses. So do you agree that the word cannot be used with the both tenses?

edited Apr 01 '13 at 02:20 Hans Contributor

3 answers


Hi again,


You are basically correct: we do not usually use later to connect a subsequent event to a present timeframe/event.  Instead, we use it to connect a subsequent past event to an earlier past event/timeframe, or two subsequent events/timeframes.


I went to Paris last summer and two weeks later I met the love of my life.

I am going to Paris next January.  Six months later, I will spend a month in Greece.


However, you can use later to connect to the present if no time expressions or numerical modifications (example: '2 days'; '3 hours') of later are used.  The most common example of this is the expression See you later.  Other correct sentences would be Can we talk about this later?, Later, I will tell you all about it, etc.


I hope this helps.

link comment answered Apr 01 '13 at 03:05 Shawn Mooney Expert

You can use later with the present tense, meaning that later is right now. There needs to some connection to the past, though, so there two point in time. One is "earlier" and the other is "later". You don't have to use the word "earlier", though. It can be implied. Let's say you showed up for a meeting at 2:00, but the meeting leader didn't get the meeting stated promptly. You might say, "We are starting the meeting later than I expected." (You expected the meeting to start earlier.)

link edited Apr 01 '13 at 03:34 Patty T Grammarly Fellow

Thank you both so much and the two sentences, I met him 2 hours later and I met him after 2 hours mean basically the same, don't they? So they can be interchangeable, right?

HansApr 01 '13 at 03:53

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I think there are some regional differences in the way the term is used and understood in the UK.  I'm from the South-East, and I often use the phrase `see you later', `I'll call you later' etc. to mean that I hope/intend to see or phone you at some unspecific time in the near future. That might be in two hours or two days.  Once, after saying `I'll ring you later', the other person said `so what time are you going to call then?' In other words, he understood it to mean `I'll call you later on today'. Now, which one of us was correct? I'm inclined to think that my understanding and intended use of the phrase in that conversation was quite accurate. There we are. Best, Matt

link comment answered Oct 27 '15 at 07:50 Matt New member

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