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I was taught that so as to say "after" in Chinese one should use 以后, like this:

吃饭以后

Today I came across a bare 后, like this:

15分钟后

What's the difference between these two words?

  • "实用汉语近义虚词词典"以后(名)/之后(名)/后(名) [相同] 都是方位名词,可以用在词语后边,表示比某个时间晚的时间。经常可以互换。(1)演出结束以后,校长走上舞台和演员们握手。(后✓之后✓)(2)小明,起床以后赶紧洗脸刷牙吃早饭。(后✓之后✓)(3)这词实习两个月后才能结束。(以后✓之后✓)(4)毕业后我一直在北京工作,去年才来到广州。(以后✓之后✓)(5)从此之后,我和她再也没有什么关系了。(后✓以后✓)(6)"长江号"货船将于三天之后出发。(后✓以后✓) [不同] 1。 "以后、之后"都可以用在后一分句的开头:"以后"还可以用在单句的开头或主语后,"之后"不能。"后"必须用在词语的后面,不能单独使用:(1)她开学的那天来过一次,以后就再也没有来过。(之后✓后✗)(2)三年前我们见过一次面,以后就再也没有见过。(之后✓后✗)(3)我那天中午就走了,以后的情况我就不知道了。(之后✓后✗)(4)以后,你再不要来找我了。(后✗之后✗)(5)你以后再不要来找我了。(后✗之后✗)(6)以后,你有什么打算?(后✗之后✗)(7)你以后有什么打算?(后✗之后✗) 2。 "后"可以用在一些单音节词后边,表示时间;"以后、之后"只用在双音节词语后边;○饭后 会后 课后 午后 看后 见后(以后✗之后✗) – user6065 Nov 27 '17 at 18:26
  • ○早饭后 会议后 下课后 看完后 观看后(以后✓之后✓)(1)饭后不要马上剧烈运动,记住啊!(以后✗之后✗)(2)会后有一个聚餐,你不要走啊。(以后✗之后✗)(3)这个电影反映了当代社会的真实情况,看后很受启发。(以后✗之后✗) 3。 "后、之后"可以用在名词后边,表示和"前"相对的空间、处所,但"后"多和单音节名词组合,"之后"多和双音节词组合。"以后"不能表示空间处所:○屋后 门后 山后 树后 楼后(之后✗以后✗)○房屋之后 小山之后 大树之后 大楼之后(后✓以后✗)(1)山后有一片很大的果园。(之后✗以后✗)(2)小山后有一片很大的苹果园。(之后✓以后✗)(3)杰克就躲在树后。(之后✗以后✗)(4)杰克就躲在大树后。(之后✓以后✗) 4。 "后"可以用在"向、朝、往、从、由"等介词后面,表示空间;"以后、之后"无此用法:(1)请大家朝后退一点。(以后✗之后✗)(2)听到她一声大叫,所有的人都不由得往后看。(以后✗之后✗)(3)我从/由前往后数,你从/由后往前数。(以后✗之后✗)(4)教官大喊一声:"向后转!"(以后✗之后✗) – user6065 Nov 27 '17 at 18:27
  • Thanks for the reply! Unfortunately, I think my Chinese is not good enough to get through it in a reasonable amount of time. I've been learning it for about 5 months. – marmistrz Nov 27 '17 at 21:25
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后= after

Examples:

吃饭后 = after eating dinner

15分钟后 = after 15 minutes

以后 = after

以后 (after) emphasizes on 'time after a specific event or action'

Examples:

吃过那顿晚饭以后 = after eating that dinner (a specific dinner is emphasized)

15分钟的沉默以后 = after 15 minutes of silence (the event- 15 minutes of silence is emphasized)

以后 = 此后 (hereafter); 其后 (thereafter) ; 以来(since)

Example: 自二战以后 = 自二战以来 = since WWII

以后 = 今后 (from now on)

Example:

以后不再和你说话 = I won't talk to you from now on

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I think the main difference is, 后 can also mean behind, the back, the last, whereas 以后 does not take such a meaning.

后面: behind
*以后面 X (not a word)

房后有个车库。 Behind the house is a garage.
我坐在后排。 I'm sitting in the last (the behind) row.

后, 以后 both can mean after, afterwards, later.

后 can also mean children, as in 后生,'those born after' 九零后 'the children of the 90s'

And of course, 'the woman behind the king' i.e. the queen: 帝王的妻子:皇后,太后

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后(after,behind), a single character, connotes time or position according to the context. When it refers to time sequencing, it's the same as 以后. It's like in your examples: 吃饭(以)后, 15分钟(以)后. But in 身后,房后 and etc, you can not replace 后 with 以后, because it stands for the location.

以后(after) only connotes position.

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