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According to this grammar page, it appears like 之後 can always replace 以後, whereas 以後 cannot always replace 之後. However, these grammar pages are not always reliable.

1) For simplicity, is it safe to always use 之後 instead of 以後?

2) Is the same true of 之前 and 以前?

https://resources.allsetlearning.com/chinese/grammar/Comparing_%22yihou%22_and_%22zhihou%22

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  • @user6065 thanks for those links! – Crashalot Sep 10 '18 at 1:20
  • The article from this question has this passage: Not only can it (之後) happen in the same place, modifying the time, but it can also appear just on its own, meaning something along the lines of "then." While 以后 is dependent on the time, 之后 can stand by itself. Yet one of the answers from your comment says this: 之后 means after that (something said earlier) which requires a context as the reference point of time. These seem to contradict each other. Which is right? – Crashalot Sep 10 '18 at 1:27
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In the three example sentences of 以后 in your link, 以后 cannot be replaced by 之后. (1)以后 再 也 不 来 这里 吃饭 了 , 又 贵 又 难吃 。 (2)以后 我 可能 会 去 国外 上 大学 。 (3)以后 的 事情 以后 再 说 吧 。

(Actually you can use 之后 in (2), but need a context before that. E.g. 我打算高中毕业之后去北京工作两年;之后我可能会去国外上大学。)

Similarly 之前 and 以前 cannot always replace each other.

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  • Other than what @user12075 said, note that 之后 can also be "the descendant of" e.g. 名门之后 中山靖王之后(手动斜眼) – Toosky Hierot Sep 10 '18 at 4:17
  • Could you share what are the rules for when you can use 之后? For instance, why does it fail for #1 but not #2? – Crashalot Nov 20 '18 at 4:44
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“之前”:It is a concept with a timeliness or a concept of ordering according to a rule. 1.时间性意义下的“之前”表示在某个时刻的前面。 2.某规则排列次序性意义下的“之前”是指按照该排列规则确定的在某事物的前面。 “以前”:It refers to a period earlier than at present or at a certain time. “之后”:At the end of a time or place. General multi fingered time。 “以后”:Refers to a time that is later than it is now or some time.

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