“After” usually means “after in time order” (“I’ll see you after class”), but in phrasal verbs it usually means something like “following” in a certain direction, toward, or chasing. The baby ducks in the picture are following their mother; they are swimming after her.
Chasing something: “go after, be after, run after”
- “Zelda is after Scott in a big way. She wants to have a romance with him.”
- All the girls are running after the football players.
Attacking something: “go after, come after”
- “This guy and I were arguing and suddenly he came after me with a knife.”
Caring for something: “look after”
- “My nephew is sick right now, but my sister is looking after him.”
Giving a baby someone’s name: “name someone after someone else”
- “We named our baby after my aunt Celeste.”
Looking like or acting like someone: “take after”
- “He takes after his father–he has exactly the same eyes.”
Practice reading (using Chapters 6, 7). Read this short conversation to check your understanding.
At the Train Station
Helen: Excuse me, would you mind looking after my suitcase while I go get a coffee?
Ann: No problem, sure. You know, there’s a new coffee shop around the corner. I stumbled across it last week. You can cut across that hallway there.
Helen: Thanks! (Pause) You look familiar. Are you Emily Smith?
Ann: No, I’m Ann Smith, her sister.
Helen: Really? Wow. You really take after your sister.”
Ann: Of course I do! We’re twins!