How to use 後 = あと ( = ato)


= Sanpo no ato wa oyatsu ne.
= Give me a snack after we take a walk.
= Ato, miruku mo wasurenai de!
= And don’t forget to give me some milk.

 みなさん、こんにちは! = Minasan, konnichiwa! Hi everyone!
I am your guest teacher, Gala from Spain.
Today, I am going to teach you how to use 後 = あと= ato.
The kanji 後  is read as
訓読み= くんよみ = kunyomi = kun-reading
* 後ろ= うしろ= ushiro = behind
Ex. 車の後ろ = kuruma no ushiro = behind a car
* = あと= ato = behind, after
Ex. 食べた = たべたあと= tabeta ato = after you eat
* = のち = nochi  ( formal / literal) after 
Ex. 晴れのち*雨
= Hare nochi ame
= clear sky followed by rain
*You tend to use hiragana
Ex. それでは後ほど (formal) 
= Sore de wa nochi hodo.
=I will see you later. 
音読み = おんよみ = on yomi = on-reading
* 後 == go = after
Ex. 午後 = ごご = gogo = afternoon
Ex. 食後 = しょくご = shokugo = after meal
We’ll focus on the usage 後 = あと = ato, today.
 !star! How to use:
1) (time) after / afterward
* verb + あと)ato = after doing something, after you did something
* noun + ( = no ) + (あと) ato
Ex. 食べたに歯を磨く。
= Tabeta ato ni ha wo migaku.
= to brush one’s teeth after one eats. (eating)
(You can also say 食後 = しょくご = shokugo)
Ex. 授業が終わったにあの店で会おう。
= Jugyou ga owatta ato ni ano mise de aou.
= Let’s get together at the store (or restaurant/bar) after class.
(You can also say 授業後 = じゅぎょうご = jugyougo)
Ex. 私がうちに帰った、何かあったの?
= Watashi ga uchi ni kaetta ato, nani ka atta no?
= What happened after I went home?
Ex. 僕が出かけたすぐに、電話があったみたいだ。
= Boku ga dekaketa sugu ato ni, denwa ga atta mitai da.
= It seems like someone called me right after I went out (or left my house).
Note: ( = boku) is for a male speech
Ex. 「昨日は、飲み会、先に帰ってごめんね。楽しかった?」
= Kinou wa, nomikai, saki ni kaette gomenne. Tanoshikatta?
= I am sorry I left the drinking party early yesterday. Did you have a good time?
= Ano ato, Tanaka kun ga yopparatte taihen dattan dayo.
= After you left, we had a big problem because Tanaka-kun got drunk.
2) (physical) after / behind (You also say うしろ= ushiro)
Ex. この車のをついてきてください。
= Kono kuruma no ato/ushiro wo tsuite kite kudasai.
= Please follow this car.
(If you’re after someone — like a detective in a movie — you could jump into a taxi and say:
あの車のをつけてくれ!   (male speech/rough) 🚓
 = Ano kuruma no ato wo tsuketekure!
= Follow that car!
Ex. 私のをつけてこないで。
= Watashi no ato wo tsukete konai de.
= Don’t follow me.
3) later
Ex. 「出かけようか。」
= Dekake you ka.
= Shall we go now?
= Saki ni ittete. Ato kara iku kara.
= Go ahead. I will catch up with you later.
Ex. じゃあ、でね。
= Jaa, ato de ne.
= OK, see you later.
Ex. 「早く、宿題しなさい。」
= Hayaku, shukudai shinasai.
= Do your homework quickly.
= Ato de yaru yo.
= I’ll do that later.
Ex. 「ちょっと時間ある?」
= Choto jikan aru?
= Do you have a minute?
= Gomen. Ima, isogashii kara ato ni shite.
= Sorry. I am tied up right now. Can you tell me later?
Ex. で返すから千円貸してくれる?
= Ato de kaesu kara sen-en kashite kureru?
= Can you lend me 1,000 yen. I will pay you back later.
Ex. 今日、私がご飯作るけどから文句を言わないでね。
= Kyou, watashi ga gohan tsukuru kedo ato kara monku wo iwanai dene.
= I am going to cook today, but don’t complain later, OK?
4) the rest / what was left behind
(Note: You can use kanji or hirangana. But in casual writing style, you tend to use hiragana. )
Ex. あとはお願いします。
= Ato wa onegai shimasu.
= Please take care of the rest.
Ex. あとは任せてください。
= Ato wa makasete kudasai.
= Let me take care of the rest. / Leave it to me. I will take care of the rest.
Ex. 「パーティーの準備はできた?」
= Paatii no junbi wa dekita?
= Did you get everything ready for the party?
= Daitaine. Ato wa tanoshimu dake.
= More or less. All we need to do now is to have fun.
5) when you need certain amount of time/money/ things/people more. / how much/many ~ left
Ex. バレンタインまであと3週間だ。
= Barentain made ato sanshuukan da.
= Three more weeks until St.Valentine’s Day.
(in the car)
= Maggie no ie made ato dono gurai kakaru no?
= How long until we get to your house, Maggie?
= Ato juppun gurai de tsuku yo.
= In about 10 more minutes.
Ex. エアコンの修理にはあと1週間ぐらいかかります。
= Eakon no shuuri niwa ato isshuukan gurai kakarimasu.
= It will take about one more week to fix the air-conditioner.
Ex. 運転免許を取るにはあと1ヶ月は必要だ。
= Unten menkyo wo toru niwa ato ikkagetsu wa hitsuyou da.
= I need one more month to get a driver’s license.
Ex. 客: 「おいくらですか?」
= Kyaku: Oikura desu ka?
= Customer: How much is it?
店員:「 1120円です。」
= Ten-in: Sen hyaku nijuu en desu.
= Shop clerk: It’s 1,120 yen.
客: 「 じゃあ、これで。」
= Kyaku: Jaa, kore de.
= Customer: Here you are.
店員: 「すみません。あと20円お持ちですか?」
= Ten-in: Sumimasen. Ato nijuu en omochi desu ka?
= Shop clerk: Sorry. Do you have 20 yen more?
Ex. このカラオケルームを予約するにはあと5人集めないといけない。
= Kono karaoke ruumu wo yoyaku suru niwa ato gonin atsumenai to ikenai.
= We need 5 more people to make a reservation for this karaoke room.
Ex. 「いくつケーキ残っている?」
= Ikutsu keeki nokotte iru?
= How many pieces of cake are left?
あと、2個残っているよ。」🍰 🍰
= Ato, niko nokotte iru yo.
= Two more pieces left.
Ex. ビール、あと2本お願いします。
= Biiru, ato nihon onegai shimasu.
= Two more bottles of beer, please. 
Ex.「 Suicaの残金あとどれぐらいある?」
= Suika no zankin ato doregurai aru?
= How much money is left on the Suica card?
= Ato, hyakuen shika nai. Chaaji shinaito…
= Only 100 yen left. I have put some money on it.
Note: Suica card is a prepaid e-money card that you can use for transportation or shopping.
Ex. 駅まで車で送ってくれる?それからあともう一つだけお願いがあるんだけど。
= Eki made kurumade okutte kureru? Sore kara ato mou hitotsu dake onegai ga arun dakedo.
= Can you take me to the station? And I have one more favor to ask you.
Ex. あと誰がまだ来ていない?
= Ato dare ga mada kite inai?
= Who is missing? (Who is not here yet?)
6) a casual conjunction.
When you add more information to your previous conversation. : and, and also, on top of that
 :w: similar expression それから ( = sorekara)・そして ( = soshite)
(Note: All the following example sentences are pretty conversational. )
Ex. 「マギー先生、今週の宿題はなんですか?」
= Maggie Sensei, konshuu no shukudai wa nan desu ka?
= Maggie Sensei, what is our homework for this week?
Maggie 「日本語の漫画を読んでアニメを見て…あと、私のサイトで毎日勉強することです。」
= Nihongo no manga wo yonde anime wo mite… Ato, watashi no saito de mainichi benkyou suru koto desu.
= Read Japanese comic books, and watch animations. And study (Japanese) with my site every day.
Ex. トイレットペーパー買ってきて。あとマヨネーズとケチャップもお願い。
= Toiretto peepaa katte kite. Ato mayoneezu to kechappu mo onegai.
= Can you go buy toilet paper? And also mayo and ketchup as well.
Ex. 瑛太君が、久美のことかわいいって言ってたよ。あと、いつかデートに誘いたいって。
= Eita kun ga, Kumi no koto kawaii tte itteta yo. Ato, itsuka deeto ni sasoitaitte.
= Eita kun said you were cute, Kumi. And he was also saying he wanted to ask you out for a date sometime.
Ex. 「ヨーロッパのどこに行くの?」
= Yooroppa no doko ni iku no?
= Where in Europe are you going?
= Suisu to o-sutoria. Ato doitsu mo iku yo.
= Switzerland and Austria. And I am also going to Germany.
Ex.A: 「会議は何時からですか?」
= Kaigi wa nanji kara desu ka?
= What time does the meeting start?
B: 「11時からです。」
= Juuichiji kara desu.
= From 11:00.
A: あと、C社へは何時に行くことになってますか?」
= Ato, C-sha ewa nanji ni ikukoto ni natte imasuka?
= Also, what time are we supposed to go to C-Cooperate.?
B: 「2時です。」
= Niji desu.
= 2:00.
Ex.「 私のどこが好き?」
= Watashi no doko ga suki?
= What do you like about me?
「 かわいくて、優しいところ。あと面白いから好き。」
= Kawaikute, yasashii tokoro. Ato omoshiroi kara suki.
= Because you are cute and sweet. And also I like you because you are funny!
Ex. あと、何か質問はありますか?
= Ato, nanika shitsumon wa arimasuka?
= Do you have any more questions?
7) Idiomatic expressions with = あと ( = ato)
* からから = あとからあとから = ato kara ato kara = one after another, in rapid succession
Ex. からからお客さんがくる。
= Ato kara ato kara okyaku san ga kuru.
= The customers are coming one after another.
*を絶たない = あとをたたない = ato wo tatanai = endless
Ex. 歩きスマホの事故がを絶たない。
= Aruku sumaho no jiko ga ato wo tatanai.
= There is no end to the accidents caused by using cell phones while walking.
* を追う = あとをおう = ato wo ou
 :rrrr: 1) to follow someone, run after someone


Ex. 警察は犯人のを追った。
= Keisatsu wa hannin no ato wo otta.
The police ran after the criminal.
 :rrrr: 2) to die/commit suicide after one’s loved one has passed away
Ex. 彼は父のを追うようにして亡くなった。
= Kare wa chichi no ato wo ou you ni shite nakunatta.
= He passed away as if he were following his father’s death.
* にする = あとにする = ato ni suru = (literal expression) to leave behind
(It could also mean “to do something later / to postpone” )
Ex. 彼女は一年の留学を終え、日本をにした。
= Kanojo wa ichinen no ryuugaku wo oe, nihon wo ato ni shita.
= After studying for one year, She left Japan behind.
*の祭 (り) = あとのまつり= ato no matsuri = (literal meaning) “The day after the fair.” = It’s too late to do something.
Ex. 今さら、自分のやったことをあやまっても後の祭だ。
= Imasara, jibun no yatta koto wo ayamatte mo ato no matsuri da.
= It is too late to apologize for what you have done.
*にも先にも = あとにもさきにも = ato nimo saki nimo = before or since / something happened just once / you did something just once
Ex. 彼と話したのはにも先にもその時だけだ。
= Kare to hanashita no wa ato nimo saki nimo sono toki dakeda.
= I have never talked to him before or since then.
*を引く = あとをひく= ato wo hiku = to linger / to affect for a long time/ some food or drink is too good that you want to have more.
Ex. このカレー、美味しくてを引くね。
= Kono karee, oishikute ato wo hiku ne.
= This curry is so good that I want to keep eating it.
* = あとがま = atogama = a successor
釜に座る = あとがまにすわる= atogama ni suwaru = to take someone’s place, to succeed
Note: It is a classic expression but it has a connotation of looking down on the person so be
careful. You should not use it when talking to the person who took over a position.
Ex. 部長の釜に座るのは誰だろう。
= Buchou no atogama ni suwaru nowa dare darou.
= I wonder who is going to take over the manager’s post.
= “Ato” no ressun wa koko made desu.
Let’s wrap up the lesson on “ato” now.
= Ato, wakaranai koto ga attara itsudemo komento ran de shitsumon shite kudasai.
= If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to ask me in the comment section.
マギー先生より= Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei
= Gala Sensei, arigatou!
= Muchas gracias, Gala!
= Ato de, mata orei no meeru wo iremasu ne.
= I will text you later to say thank you!




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  1. Hi Maggie Sensei! How would I form a sentence using “after” as in “I woke up after my children” (i.e. in the sense of later than)? I’m a little stuck on which construction is most appropriate here.


    1. Hi Jo

      noun + の+ 後で

      But in that case there is a hidden verb (woke up) after “my children”
      I woke up after my children (woke up)
      so you say

  2. Hi sensei.
    It’s my first comment here. I have a question.
    What does あとから means ?😅
    Thank you for this great lesson.

    1. Hi Aya,

      あとから is similar to あとで
      It means “later”/”after finishing something”
      = I will call you later.
      = to complain later (after something is over)

  3. Hey sensei, how can I tell if this is read as ato, nochi, or go? Is there some rule behind these suffixes?

    5.32MB – 解凍後 7.77MB

    1. Hi Me,
      解凍後= かいとうご = kaitou go
      There are exceptions but you usually read it ご(=go) if it is in a compound word.
      食後 =しょくご = shokugo = after meal
      放課後=ほうかご= houkago= after school
      And if a verb past tense + 後 or noun + の+ 後, you read it あと= ato
      食事をした後= しょくじをしたあと= shokuji wo shita ato = after having a meal
      放課の後= houka no ato

    1. Hi Joey,
      後で/後 focusing on the order/what you are going to do after ~
      After finishing (A), you do (B)

      後に focusing on the time, the particular time after ~

  4. Hello Maggie sensei,
    I am quite not convinced with the answer of 天人.
    Could you help me it. I want to understand the nuance difference of たすぐ後、and かと思うと、in this example


    Thanks Maggie sensei as always.
    It’s great to know that a lot of people is willing to help in Maggie sensei site also:)

    1. OK, for example,


      Right after happened, B happened.

      In this case you simply express what happened after action/event A.

      1) He left
      2) Someone called him

      と思うと/思ったら is also used when something happened right after the first action/event but you can’t say


      You usually use かと思うと・かと思ったら to show the contrast. Thus action/event A and B are often something contradicted/opposite/ unexpected.
      Just when I thought ~ , something contradicte/unexpected happened.

      For example,

      Ex. 彼は出かけたと思ったらすぐに帰ってきた。

      1) He left
      2) He came back right after he left home.

      Ex. 今、雨が降ったと思ったらすぐに太陽が出てきた。
      1) It was just rainnnig
      2) It clears up soon.

      Ex. さっきまで泣いていたと思ったらすぐに笑う

      1) He/She was crying just now
      but immediately
      2) He/She smiles again.

      to express one’s emotions change easily.
      Yes, 天人 is great!! 😊

  5. Hello Maggie sensei,

    Thank you for great lesson!
    I dont know why even though I am studying the intermediate Japanese, I even forget the very basic grammar. But thanks Maggie sensei for this site, I can review any grammar any time.

    Could you tell me the nuance difference for the followings :
    (1) 彼が出かけたすぐ後に、電話があったみたいだ。

    And if I write it with かと思うと。

    (2) 彼が出かけたかと思うと、電話があった.

    I feel the meanings are the same, but…if the same, why Japanese needs 1 more grammar かと思うと。。。。

    Thanks Maggie sensei as usual.

    1. Hello Frozenheart,
      here’s the answer to your question.

      出かけたすぐ後に – something happens right after something was done – the speaker is more specific about occurrence of the happenings. The particle に sets a specific point in time, which means that less time could have passed between the first and the second part of the sentence.

      出かけたかと思うと – something happens no sooner than / as soon as something was done – the speaker is less specific occurrence of the happenings. The part. か+とおもうと implies more uncertainty, which means that more time could have passed between the first and the second part of the sentence.

      There are also more patterns, which are associated to that one, like: ~たとたんに、か~ないかのうちに、がはやいか、そばから、なり or や否や.


  6. Hi, is there any difference between using just ato or ato with a particle (atode/atoni)? Can they be used with unchanged meaning in all grammatical structure? Arigatou gozaimasu.

    1. Hi Akai,

      When you simply talking about ” ~ more + time related words”, you don’t need a particle.
      Ex. Ten more minutes →後10分

      1) 〜A〜 後で 〜B〜
      2) 〜A〜 後に 〜B〜

      the grammatical structure is the same but the relations between the event/action A and B are slightly different.
      It is a bit complicated and changes the nuance difference depending on the sentences but the general idea is
      1) focusing on the order of action/events
      2) focusing on the time when you finish doing A (A happens).

  7. Hello maggie sensei
    is there a difference between ( tsuite kuru) and ( tsukete kuru)? I know it has to do with transitive and instransitive verbs.. but here they have the same meaning so I got confused….

    1. Hi roro!!

      ついてくる & つけてくる
      They both can be translated “to follow” but here’s the difference.

      ついてくる means “A accompanies with B” and “A follows B to do something with B”
      Ex. 彼はどこにでもついてくる

      B knows A is following.

      is like a detective or police following a criminal in secret.

      So B doesn’t know A is following you.

    1. Hi Chami,

      後 and もっと are both translated “more” but they are different.

      もっと modifies a verb or adjecitve.
      Ex. I want to eat more. = もっと食(た)べたい (x あと)
      Ex. I wish I could have more money = もっとお金があればいいのに。(xあと)
      Ex. A is more interesting than B. = Aの方がBよりもっと面白い。(X あと)
      Ex. I like him more than Ken. = Ken より彼の方がもっと好きだ。(Xあと)

      あと modifies a noun in the following cases.
      Ex. I need 100 yen more = あと100円必要です。(xもっと)
      Ex. I have one more hour. = あと1時間あります。(xもっと)

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