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It's my understanding that when telling what you did after an action can be said using:

  • た後で
  • てから
  • た後に

For instance,

  • さおとめさんが泳いでから私たちはお祭りで会いました。
  • さおとめさんが泳いだ後{あと}で私たちはお祭りで会いました。
  • さおとめさんが泳いだ後{のち}に私たちはお祭りで会いました。

And those 3 forms can be used interchangeably.

However た後から seems to also be used for after [verb]-ing, but has the added effect of implying a cause and effect relationship. Or put another way, action A was a result of action B. Is this a correct assumption? Is my understanding of this correct?

Note: た and て are denoting the tense the verb has to be in. 

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Do you have an example of た後から implying a cause and effect relationship? I'm having a hard time validating your assumption in my head without a concrete example. –  ento Nov 15 '12 at 0:25
    
@ento: I read it somewhere else. I didn't know if it was right. That's why I'm asking. –  dotnetN00b Nov 15 '12 at 1:23
    
I'm not really aware of any uses of 後から in a set construction like this, much less implying a causal relationship. Do you have any specific examples of its usage that you want to know about or are you just going from something you think you remember reading? –  ssb Nov 16 '12 at 11:32
    
@ssb: It's the latter. –  dotnetN00b Nov 16 '12 at 17:12

2 Answers 2

①カレと[別]{わか}れてから、[妊娠]{にんしん}が[発覚]{はっかく}した。
②カレと[別]{わか}れた[後]{あと}で、[妊娠]{にんしん}が[発覚]{はっかく}した。
③カレと[別]{わか}れた[後]{のち}に、[妊娠]{にんしん}が[発覚]{はっかく}した。

All of these sentences make sense and are grammatical, and they mean the same thing.
(I think ③ is also read as 「~あとに~」.)
「[後]{のち}に」sounds literary, so we rather use 「てから」/「[後]{あと}で」in daily conversation.

カレと[別]{わか}れた[後]{あと}から、[妊娠]{にんしん}が[発覚]{はっかく}した。

doesn't sound very natural. (To be honest, I don't even know if 「~~た後から」 is grammatically correct...) I googled "た後から" and it seemed to me like 「~~た後から」 is used more for an event that "starts/started" after another event, and that is often "continuing". Eg;

「[手術]{しゅじゅつ}した[後]{あと}から、ずっと[頭痛]{ずつう}が[続]{つづ}いている」.

I think 手術してからずっと頭痛が続いている/手術して[以来]{いらい}、ずっと頭痛が続いている would sound more natural. I wouldn't say 手術した後で、ずっと頭痛が続いている or 手術した[後]{のち}に、ずっと頭痛が続いている, though.
I also suspect that た後から is often used to mean「~~した[後]{あと}になって」.

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~た後から I think means "since after ~" ? –  Flaw Nov 19 '12 at 3:26
    
@Flaw Yes, I think it can mean that, because I found lots of people using it that way online, but I also found many people using it in a different way. –  Choko Nov 19 '12 at 12:09

Well, your question is very good and the answer is NO! You cannot use all three forms interchangeably because they have different meanings. I am sorry I do not know the third form in your question, and although I spoke a lot of Japanese, I never encountered a situation where such an expression was necessary (but this is my experience).

That being said, I would like to consider your question and provide a wider answer by explaining the forms that I know in Japanese to express when some action is performed or occurs before another one.

Using (V:て-Form)から〜 expression

Usually this is the first expression taught when learning Japanese Grammar. It is the one used the most because it is really versatile and quite easy (although it requires knowledge of the て-Form which is not always mastered in the early days of Japanese lessons). The pattern is the following (please note punctuation):

(V:て-Form)から、(...Sentence)

Here are some examples:

1a) 毎{まい}日{にち}シャワーを[浴]{あ}びてから、朝{あさ}ご[飯]{はん}を[食]{た}べている。
=> Everyday after taking a shower, I have breakfast.

2a) 昨日{きのう}は[洋]{ヒロ}[子]{コ}ちゃんと[遊]{あそ}んでから、帰{かえ}った。
=> Yesterday after playing together with Hiroko, I returned home.

3a) 明日{あした}はちょっと[忙]{いそが}しいんだよ。学{がっ}校{こう}をでてから、すぐアルバイトに[行]{い}かないと!
=> Tomorrow is quite busy. After leaving school, I must go to my part-time job.

You use this form every time you want to describe an action which takes place after another one. The sentence using the て-Form is the one whose action happens first. After a comma, you then specify what happens next.

Using (V:た-Form)あとで〜 expression

You use the following pattern whenever you want to specify that a certain action has been completed and then you moved on:

(V:た-Form)あとで、(...Sentence)

Consider the following examples:

1b) 宿{しゅく}題{だい}をしたあとで、遊{あそ}んでもいいよ。
=> After you finish homework, you can play and have fun!

2b) 小{しょう}説{せつ}を[書]{か}いたあとで、立{た}ちあがって「やった」と[言]{い}ったんだ。
=> After writing the novel, he stood up and said "Done!".

3b) クラスが[終]{お}わったあとで、友{とも}達{だち}と[遊]{あそ}びに[行]{い}った。
=> After classes finished, he went playing somewhere with friends.

As you can see, here are situations where a certain activity has been completed, performed, or finished once and for all. When you want to express this concept, you should use this form. Sometimes it might be incorrect to not use it.

Also please note that you should use あとで and not 後で. This is a grammar rule in Japanese that my teachers always told me (since I had a bad habit of using kanji everywhere): in grammar patterns, you should use hiragana, not kanji.

Using (V:辞-Form)と〜 expression

Another expression to express sequential situations is the following:

(V:辞-Form)と、(...Sentence)

You use the jisho form (base form) in order to say that after a certain thing happens, then inevitably, the next sentence occurs. I have chosen these terms (happens and occurs) not by chance. Consider the following examples:

1c) 右{みぎ}へ[曲]{ま}がると、パン[屋]{や}が[左]{ひだり}側{がわ}にあります。
=> Once you turn right, there will be a bakery on the left.

2c) 8時{じ}30分{ぷん}になると、クラスが[始]{はじ}まる。
=> When it is 8:30, classes will start.

3c) 二{は}十{た}歳{ち}になると、何{なん}でも[出]{で}来{き}るようになるよ。
=> Once you turn 20, you can do anything.

In this situation, the sentence should always be translated as following:

(V:辞-Form)と、(...Sentence)
==> (Sentence-1)と、(Sentence-2)
==> Once (Sentence-1) then (Sentence-2)

It is important to point out that this pattern should be used when giving directions and when describing actions, matters, or situations. The grammar rule actually use the word inevitable in order to describe when to use this structure. So when some actions is performed or some event occurs, it is inevitable that a consequence occurs as well. This connection cause-consequence is depicted perfectly by this grammar structure.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are several options. I described the ones I know and that I think are the most used. As you can see, you cannot interchange these patterns. Hope it helps.

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