What is the meaning of 后?

For example, 我二十分钟后应该就到了。

I believe 后 means behind? I still don't get how 后 should be placed in the sentence. I thought it made more sense when it was, 我二十分钟应该就到。

How does 后 make the difference?

  • 2
    Remark: 后 means behind or after in simplified Chinese. In Traditional Chinese, 后 means "queen", and the correct character should be "後".
    – Conifers
    Sep 9, 2019 at 6:40
  • The full form of ~分钟 / / is ~分钟之 / / , the character 之 is omitted in modern Chinese. The character 之 likes the word of in English, but the order of the two parts on both side is opposite, also it likes 's in English, the same order as that in Chinese, for example: 中国之地图 (or 中国地图) means a map of China or China's map.
    – xenophōn
    Sep 10, 2019 at 11:26

3 Answers 3


I think that the use of the character 后 helps to modify the certainty of the statement.

By expressing the exact figures, the person would be trying to convey that the arrival should occur within the exact time (e.g. train arriving at the schedule time at the station).

To create more subtlety in the expression, 后 suggest that the arrival will take place after 20min, so most likely not before or exactly, but most likely after.

However, adding 应该 also suggests uncertainty so they both contribute to modifying the accuracy of the time given.


二十分钟 = "20 minutes later" or "after 20 minutes"


二十分钟后就到了 (will arrive 20 minutes later/ will arrive after 20 minutes)

二十分钟 = "20 minutes earlier" or " 20 minutes before"

二十分钟 = "in 20 minutes"

  • I normally hear 之內 rather than just 內
    – dROOOze
    Sep 10, 2019 at 0:10
  • "二十分钟內/ 二十分钟之內"; "二十分钟前/ 二十分钟之前"; "二十分钟后/ 二十分钟之后" are all valid
    – Tang Ho
    Sep 10, 2019 at 0:16

I should arrive in 20 minutes.

Literally: I 20 minutes after should then arrive.

  • 3
    "in 20 minutes" means "二十分钟內 " not "二十分钟后"
    – Tang Ho
    Sep 10, 2019 at 0:04
  • I might be wrong, but it seems like 二十分钟內 would be "within 20 minutes" (i.e., any time up to 20 minutes), not "in 20 minutes" (which usually means approximately 20 minutes, not more nor less).
    – Becky 李蓓
    Feb 25, 2020 at 3:18

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