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Linguaholic

Luego and después


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I think  the way Paolo has stated them is a good approach to look at them.

I would like to give my input and hopefully helping a bit more, though I am going without a book, it is just from my growing with it, kind of unspoken picked up stuff:

  • 'Afterwards' is better translated as 'Después'.

  • 'Then' is better translated  as 'Entonces'.

'Luego' is the word that loves to swing between both meanings more so that the words above. If you are writing it is better you pick up one of the above suggestions before choosing 'Luego' but this word forms part of our habitual living and you will hear it very, very often.

"Luego" is generally used to express a term of time shortly afterwards what is taking place.

So for a example when someone is talking about something that happened or giving instructions step by step they may used 'luego' instead of 'después'.

"Primero destápalo, luego lo sacudes" (first open the lid, then shake it)

If you swap 'luego' with 'despues' no one will notice. Despues is most likely to be in a manual, while luego if someone is talking to you or you are reading a dialogue.

Luego may also be used to convey the meaning of 'later' in some instances. Though that is a bit more tricky and I am not sure how to explain the guidelines, sometimes we change the order in our sentence to say 'bump' before the rest.

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  • 3 months later...
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Well...as a native Spanish speaker, I can tell you that they are basically the same.

"Ve a comer, luego lava la ropa, después los platos, luego dale de comer a los perros, después bañate..."

"Fui a la tienda y luego al cine."

"Me comi una torta y después fui al baño"

"Me comí unos tacos y luego fui al baño"

They are synonyms, so feel free to use them whenever you feel like it.  :smile:

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The previous posters have given great definitions, but to simplify this more, here is what I believe their definitions are:

  • Luego = later
  • Después = after

As you can see, they have similar meanings and can sometimes be used interchangeably.

If you are telling a story, both "luego" and "después" are transition words used to advance the plot. This is similar to how we say in English: "First, I ate a taco. Later, I ate another taco. After, I ate my last taco." Here, they are very similar in their usages.

In addition, there are cases where these words are used but cannot be switched.

  • Hasta luego = see you later
  • Después la comida = after the meal

In both examples, they have unique meanings. We say "see you later" but not "see you after." We say "after the meal" but not "later the meal." These are the differences that you must be aware of.

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They are synonyms, so feel free to use them whenever you feel like it.  :smile:

True, here is a list of synonym for "luego"

Synonyms of luego:

a continuación

a la postre

dentro de poco

después

detrás

en breve

en seguida

en un instante

entonces

más tarde

posteriormente

pronto

próximamente

seguidamente

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Out of curiosity, is there any difference between countries in this?  Like Mexico vs. Argentina?  I've only had Argentinian teachers and they seem to agree that they're mostly interchangeable.

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I feel like luego and después and even entonces can be interchangeable in certain situations, just as the English words then, after or later might be used in the same sentence and still make sense, or be used in temporal situations, like instructions on how to do something (First, Then, Next...)

Voy a ir a un viaje después los examenes finales.

(I'm going on vacation after finals.)

Primero levantarse de la cama, entonces cepillarse los dientes.

(First get out of bed, then brush your teeth.)

Luego tengo que trabajar.

(I have to go to work later.)

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