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Three years ago, my best friend left for England to further studies. He always wrote to me but [a year later/after a year], I stopped hearing from him.

What is the difference between later and after? I'm always confused on when to use which.

Thanks in advance!
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New2grammarThree years ago, my best friend left for England to further studies. He always wrote to me but [a year later/after a year], I stopped hearing from him.

What is the difference between later and after? I'm always confused on when to use which.

Thanks in advance!

In meaning, there isn't much difference. Somehow, I think "a year later" would be used when something happened, such as an accident; "after a year" seems a little more gradual to me, as if the writing became less frequent and then finally stopped.

This is all a general feeling on my part. Perhaps others will substantiate it with a better explanation.
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I agree with you, Philip.

In another context, "after a year" could sound like that period was specifically anticipated, while "a year later" simply marks when.

I moved to Pennsylvania, and after 18 months, I got married. That sounds like I had to wait 18 months for some reason.
I moved to Pennyslvania, and 18 months later, I got married. That sounds more like it just happened to be 18 months.