Après vs Derrière

French prepositions

The prepositions après and derrière have somewhat similar meanings, which of course means that students sometimes get them confused. Learn the difference between après and derrière to put all of this confusion behind you.

Après

Après means "after" in terms of time or a sequence of events. It can be used with expressions of time, nouns, and stressed pronouns.

après 10h   after 10 o’clock
après jeudi   after Thursday
après la réunion   after the meeting
après toi   after you

Après can also be used with several verb tenses.

1) past infinitive

après avoir eu des enfants   after having had kids
après m’être réveillé   after having woken up

2) que + passé composé

après que j’ai eu des enfants   after I had kids
après que je me suis réveillé   after I woke up

3) que + present tense

To talk about something that happens habitually.

Je mange après que tu pars.   I eat after you leave.
Elle lave la voiture après qu’il pleut.   She washes the car after it rains.

4) que + future / future perfect

When talking about something that will happen in the future, French requires the future or future perfect, even though the English equivalent is the present tense.

après que j’aurai des enfants   after I have kids
après que je me serai réveillé   after I’ve woken up

 Après que does not take the subjunctive.

 Antonym: avant

Derrière

Derrière means "behind" and indicates a position or location, whether literal or figurative. It’s used only with nouns and stressed pronouns.

derrière le restaurant   behind the restaurant
derrière mon dos   behind my back
Je veux m’asseoir derrière toi.   I want to sit behind you.
Courage, je suis derrière toi !   Take heart, I’m behind you!

 Antonym: devant

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