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Comparing "yihou" "ranhou" "houlai"

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以后 (yǐhòu) and 然后 (ránhòu) can both mean "and then," but their usage is fairly different. While both 以后 (yǐhòu) and 后来 (hòulái) can mean "later," they have distinct uses.

然后 as "and then"

然后 is a conjunction, which is always used in a sequence. It is often used with 先 (xiān, meaning "first"). 以后 or 后来 can't be used this way.

  • 我们 复习 一下 ,然后 上 新 课 。Wǒmen xiān fùxí yīxià, ránhòu shàng xīn kè.Let's do some reviewing first and then learn a new lesson.

Common Errors

  • 我们 复习 一下 ,以后 上 新 课 。Wǒmen xiān fùxí yīxià, yǐhòu shàng xīn kè.Let's do some reviewing first and then learn a new lesson.
  • 我 打算 先 住 朋友家 ,以后 找 房子 。Wǒ dǎsuàn xiān zhù péngyou jiā, yǐhòu zhǎo fángzi.My plan is to stay at my friend's friend, and then find a place to live.
  • 我们 下周 去 北京 出差 ,以后 去 欧洲 度假 。Wǒmen xiàzhōu qù Běijīng chūchāi, yǐhòu qù Ōuzhōu dùjià.We're going to Beijing on a business trip and then we go to Europe on vacation.

然后 without 先

  • 我们 在 楼下 见 ,然后 一起 走 。Wǒmen zài lóu xià jiàn, ránhòu yīqǐ zǒu.We'll meet downstairs and then we go together.
  • 宝宝 醒了 ,哭 了 一会儿 ,然后 又 睡着 了 。Bǎobao xǐng le, kū le yīhuìr, ránhòu yòu shuìzháo le.The baby woke up. He cried for a little while and then fell asleep again.
  • 中国 是 人口 最多 的 发展中 国家 ,然后 是 印度 。Zhōngguó shì rénkǒu zuì duō de fāzhǎn zhōng guójiā, ránhòu shì Yìndù.China is the biggest developing country and then it's India.

Usage of 以后

以后 as "In the Future"

以后 is a time noun, which can be used to talk about things that happen at some unspecified point in the future while 然后 and 后来 can't be used this way.

A few examples:

  • 以后 想 开 公司 。yǐhòu xiǎng kāi gōngsī.I want to start up my own business in the future.
  • 请 你 以后 别 来 了 。Qǐng nǐ yǐhòu bié lái le.Please stop coming in the future.

以后 as "After"

Note that the time can be specific (like a date or time) or broad (like an event, action, or occurrence).

A few examples:

  • 我 一 个 小时 以后 回来 。Wǒ yī gè xiǎoshí yǐhòu huílái. I will come back in an hour.
  • 毕业 以后 他 出国 了 。Bìyè yǐhòu tā chūguó le.He went abroad after he graduated.

后来 as "Afterwards"

后来 is used to sequence two events that have already occurred. It is the Chinese equivalent of the English word "afterward."

Also note that 后来 is a time noun, and it can only be used on its own.

Structure

[Past Event 1] ,后来 + [Past Event 2]

Examples

  • 他 在 我们 公司 干 过 两年 ,后来 跳槽 Tā zài wǒmen gōngsī gàn gàn guo liǎng nián, hòulái tiàocáo le.He worked for our company for two years. And then he jumped ship.
  • 后来 他 去 美国 ,然后 他 的 父母 也 搬 过去 Hòulái tā qù le Měiguó. Ránhòu tā de fùmǔ yě bān guòqù le.He moved to the US later. And then his parents also moved over there.
  • 他们 大学 的时候 在一起 过 ,以后 分手了 。 Tāmen dàxué de shíhou zài yīqǐ guo, yǐhòu fēnshǒu le.They were together in college. They broke up later on.

Example Dialog

  • A: 去 你 家 ,然后 我们 一起 去 见 她 。xiān qù nǐ jiā, ránhòu wǒmen yīqǐ qù jiàn tā.I'll go to your house first, then we can go together to see her.
  • B: 好的 。她 出国 以后 你们 见过面 吗 ?Hǎo de. Tā chūguó yǐhòu nǐmen jiàn guo miàn ma?Sure. Have you seen each other since she went abroad?
  • A: 见 过 一次 ,后来 再也 没见过 。Jiàn guo yī cì, hòulái zài yě méi jiàn guo.She left the country two years ago. I haven't seen her since then.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books

Dictionaries