We already know one way of saying “after” in Japanese: by using the te form.
|I drank coffee and then started work.|
If we want to emphasis that A happened after B then we can add から to the te form of the first clause.
|After I drank coffee I started work.|
We can also use the following structure.
The verb in the prior action must be in the standard simple past tense. This gives rise to the same “issue” we saw when using “before”; namely, that the tense of the first clause is not dependent on the timing. This means we end up with direct translations like “After I drank tea I will phone my friend” to form the correct grammar in Japanese.
|After I drink tea I will phone my friend.|
|After the examination finished the candidates left the room at the same time.|
To be clear, the following is incorrect.
We use the possessive particle to connection 後 to nouns.
|I came back home and slept straight after the drinks.|
後で vs 〜 後に
This is actually quite a frustrating one to explain because in the majority of cases both are acceptable. Used on its own to mean “later” 後で is typically used.
|I’ll call you later.|
Generally speaking, when using で an action you will take follows; with に a natural result or an action someone else takes usually follows.
|After I’ve eaten I will call my friend.|
|After rain fell the weather cleared.|
|My girlfriend came home after I’d slept.|
後で vs 〜てから
1: Order, i.e. that B must happen after A.
|Book the hotel after you’ve confirmed the itinerary.|
Clearly the fact that you will book the hotel after checking the itinerary is not coincidence; order is important and so ～てから is the more natural sentence.
2: Intention of the prior action.
|Apologise after an argument.|
The first sentence suggests that you intended to have the argument and then apologise; whereas the second is more natural because it simply states that the apology happened after the argument without insinuating any prior intention (with is presumably the case).
3: Continuity of the final action.
|After we got married we’ve always been living in Tokyo.|