Jump to: navigation, search

Comparing "yihou" and "zhihou"

If you are trying to explain what you did after a certain event, you might want to use "以后" (yǐhòu) or "之后" (zhīhòu). After all, they do both mean "after," right? Well, it turns out that there are a few rules that you need to be aware of before you use them.


Both indicates another event happened after a special time. these two words share a structure, so it is easy to see how they would be easily confused. Here's the structure:


Subj. + Special Time + 以后/之后 + Verb

In situations where you have already done something and then after that you did something else, you can use "以后." The stipulation with this is that the time has to be explicitly said. That is, there has to be a time for "以后" to modify. Otherwise the sentence won't make sense.


  • 下 过 雨 以后/ 之后 空气 会 好 很 多 。Xià guo yǔ yǐhòu / zhīhòu kōngqì huì hǎo hěn duō.After it rains, the air will be a lot better.
  • 结婚 以后/ 之后他们 有 了 两 个 宝宝 。 Jiéhūn yǐhòu / zhīhòu tāmen yǒu le liǎng gè bǎobǎo.After getting married, they had two babies.
  • 等 我 涨 工资 以后/ 之后请 你 吃饭 。 Děng wǒ zhǎng gōngzī yǐhòu / zhīhòu qǐng nǐ chīfàn.After I get a raise, I will treat you to a meal.
  • 听到 这 个 消息 以后/ 之后 ,我 高兴 得 一 晚 上 没 睡 。 Tīngdào zhè gè xiāoxi yǐhòu / zhīhòu, wǒ gāoxìng de yī wǎn shàng méi shuì.After I heard this news, I was so happy I couldn't sleep the whole night.


Now you might be thinking, "But 以后 means afterwards, why doesn't that work?" In this case, "以后" is just used to talk about the future in general. The meaning that you're probably thinking of comes from the first structure above.



以后 ,⋯⋯


  • 以后 再 也 不 来 这里 吃饭 了 , 又 贵 又 难吃 。 Yǐhòu zài yě bù lái zhèlǐ chīfàn le, yòu guì yòu nánchī.In the future I will never come to this place to eat again. It's expensive and the food is not good.
  • 以后 我 可能 会 去 国外 上 大学 。 Yǐhòu wǒ kěnéng huì qù guówài shàng dàxué.In the future I might go to college abroad.
  • 以后 的 事情 以后 再 说 吧 。 Yǐhòu de shìqing yǐhòu zài shuō bā.We'll talk about future things some time later.


Compared to 以后, 之后 is a little more free. Not only can it happen in the same place, modifying the time, but it can also appear just on its own, meaning something along the lines of "then." While 以后 is dependent on the time, 之后 can stand by itself.


Event 1 ,之后 + Event 2


  • 我 要 先 回家 把 东西 放 下 ,之后 去 咖啡店 找 你 。 Wǒ yào xiān huí jiā bǎ dōngxi fàng xià, zhīhòu qù kāfēidiàn zhǎo nǐ.I'm going to go home and drop my stuff off first, then go to the cafe to look for you.
  • 去年 夏天 他 来 过 我 家 ,之后 再 也 没 见 过 他 。 Qùnián xiàtiān tā lái guò wǒ jiā, zhīhòu zài yě méi jiàn guo tā.Last summer, he came to my house. After that, I haven't seen him.

Right or Wrong


  • 我 六 点 下班,以后,我 去 跟 朋友 吃饭。Since there is nothing that "以后" modifies, this sentence doesn't work.
  • 我 六 点 下班,之后,我 去 跟 朋友 吃饭。"之后" works in this sentence.Wǒ liù diǎn xiàbān, zhīhòu, wǒ qù gēn péngyou chīfàn.I will get off work at six o'clock, and after that I will meet with a friend to eat dinner.
  • 昨天 我 跟 朋友 吃 完 饭以后去 了 酒吧。Zuótiān wǒ gēn péngyou chī wán fàn yǐhòu qù le jiǔbā.Yesterday, when my friends and I were done eating, we went to the bar.
  • 昨天 我 跟 朋友 去 吃饭 了,以后,我们 去 酒吧。Again, since there is nothing for "以后" to modify, it's a bad sentence.
  • 昨天 我 跟 朋友 去 吃饭 了,之后,我们 去 了 酒吧。Zuótiān wǒ gēn péngyou qù chīfàn le, zhīhòu, wǒmen qù le jiǔbā."之后" works in this sentence.Yesterday I ate dinner with a friend, and afterward we went to a bar.

See Also

Sources and Further Reading