the difference between words: in and later


Many of my students make mistakes when talking about the future, so I’d like to clear up the difference between the use of  “in” and the use of  “later”.

We use the word “in” when talking about a future event which will happen at a certain time from NOW. For example:

I’m going to go to my hometown in five days.

The new Brad Pitt movie will open in one week.

My package is supposed to be delivered in a few days.

We use the word “later” when talking about an event which happens at a future time from a moment which is NOT now. For example:

I arrived in Tokyo on March 12th, and then I went to Osaka three days later.

I will get home at 6:00, and then my friend will come over about two hours later.

On my way to work, my train suddenly stopped, but it started again about five minutes later.

As you can see with the word “later”, it can be used with both the past and the future tense. We usually state the time or date in these sentences (as in the first two examples), but it’s not always necessary (as in the third example).

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