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Before and After in Greek

Before

When expressing anteriority (i.e., “before”) you can use the same word, regardless of what follows: πριν.


Πριν τελειώσει η ταινία. – Before the movie finishes. / Before the movie finished.

Πριν το κάνω. – Before I do it. / Before I did it.

Πριν την ταινία. – Before the movie.

Πριν το τελευταίο. – Before the last one.


However, there are three words to say ‘before’: πριν, πριν να, and προτού.


Πριν να, can only be used with verbs – since να only goes with verbs anyway.


Πριν να τελειώσει η ταινία. – Before the movie finishes. / Before the movie finished.

Πριν να το κάνω. – Before I do it. / Before I did it.


In most cases, να is redundant after πριν, but this doesn’t mean that is wrong, not recommended, or informal.


Προτού is essentially the opposite of αφότου, and it follows the same syntax. In other words, it is only used with verbs.


Προτού τελειώσει η ταινία. – Before the movie finishes. / Before the movie finished.

Προτού το κάνω. – Before I do it. / Before I did it.

with verbs

with non-verbs

with both

πριν

χ

χ

πριν να

χ

χ

προτού

χ

χ

After

When expressing posteriority (i.e., “after”) you use different words, depending on what follows.


- For verbs

There are specific words that express the time after an action – if the action is expressed by a verb. Αφού and αφότου.

So, if you want to say something like “After the movie ended”, or “After I do this”, you do not use μετά, but αφού or αφότου.


Αφού τελείωσε η ταινία. – After the movie finished. / After the movie finishing.

Αφότου τελείωσε η ταινία. – After the movie finished. / After the movie finishing.


Αφού το έκανα. – After I did it. / After [me] doing it.

Αφότου το έκανα. – After I did it. / After [me] doing it.


Colloquially, you can also use μετά που, although it is not recommended for formal language.


Μετά που τελείωσε η ταινία. – After the movie finished. / After the movie finishing.

Μετά που το έκανα. – After I did it. / After [me] doing it.


It doesn’t matter whether the word “after” comes right before the verb, or if there is something between them. What matters is what “after” refers to. Αφού and αφότου are used to show the time after an action – an action expressed by a verb.


Αφού η ταινία τελείωσε. – After the movie finished. / After the movie finishing.

Αφότου η ταινία τελείωσε. – After the movie finished. / After the movie finishing.

Μετά που η ταινία τελείωσε. – After the movie finished. / After the movie finishing.


- For non-verbs

You can use μετά with any other parts of speech, e.g., nouns, adjectives, and pronouns.


Μετά την ταινία. – After the movie.

Μετά το τελευταίο. – After the last one.


with verbs

with non-verbs

μετά

χ

αφού

χ

αφότου

χ

μετά που

χ

- Αφού vs Αφότου

Αφού can express either time or cause, just like the English word ‘since’.


This means that you can express this sentence in Greek in two ways:

Since she found a job next door, I’ve been seeing her every day.


a) Αφού βρήκε δουλειά δίπλα, τη βλέπω κάθε μέρα.

b) Αφότου βρήκε δουλειά δίπλα, τη βλέπω κάθε μέρα.


* Note that here we’re looking at ‘since’ when referring to time, i.e., when it expresses the period after an action – as in: "Ever since she found a job next door, I've been seeing her every day". *


This also means that this sentence can have two meanings:

Αφού βρήκε δουλειά δίπλα, τη βλέπω κάθε μέρα.


a) Ever since she found a job next door, I’ve been seeing her every day.

b) Because she found a job next door, I’ve been seeing her every day.


* However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that there is frequent ambiguity due to the double meaning of αφού. *


The same thing happens with the original example sentence in English, as the word ‘since’ here can also express a cause in the right context.

Since she found a job next door, I’ve been seeing her every day.


On the other hand, αφότου only has one meaning, and it is time-related.

'after' / 'ever since'

'because'

αφού

αφότου

χ

μετά που

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