UNIT 34 Time and sequence
A When and as soon as
 
I'll call you when I get home. / As soon as I get home, I'll call you.
When you've finished, you can leave. / You can leave as soon as you've finished.

Note: The two linking words/phrases above can be followed by the present tense or the present perfect [but not will: You cannot say "As soon as I will finish ..." or "When I will finish . . ."] As soon as suggests that the second action will happen immediately after the first.

B Two things happening at the same time
 
Pat wrote some letters while I cooked dinner, [two actions in the same period of time]
The accident happened while I was on my way to work. [Here "on my way to work" is a longer action than "the accident." We can also use when or as here.]
I saw him (just) as I was coming out of the office. [For two short actions we use as (not while), and we often use just as to emphasize that these two short actions happened at exactly the same moment: "He opened the door just as I touched the doorknob."]

C One thing after another
 
We met them at the cafe, and then/afterward/afterwards we went to the concert.
After my visit to New York, I decided to relax for a few days. We had something to eat before we went out.

Note
: We can also follow before and after with an -ing form:

After visiting New York, I decided to relax for a few days.
We had something to eat before going out.

D A sequence of actions
 
We had a great vacation. First (of all), we went to San Francisco. Then / After that / Afterward(s), we drove to Los Angeles. Finally, we went to San Diego.

Note: If something happened after a lot of time and/or problems, you can use eventually or in the end, e.g., I made several wrong turns, but eventually I got there.

E A sequence of reasons
 


There are different combinations of words and phrases we can use here:

SON: Why can't we go away this weekend?
DAD: First / First of all, because I'm busy this weekend. Second(ly), you've got a lot of schoolwork to do. And third(ly), we're planning to go away next weekend.

Note
:

  • We can also start with the phrases To begin with / To start with.
  • In spoken English, we can start with For one thing, followed by And for another (thing).
  • For the second or final reason, we sometimes use (And) Besides or Anyway, e.g., "We can't go to that club because it's too far. And besides, I'm not a member."