I was practicing katakana reading here, and noticed at the very bottom of the page that the "forward" and "back" buttons have the characters I understand to mean "after" and "before," except that "before" points to the next page and "after" points to the previous.

Shouldn't it be the other way around? If not, why not?

Edit: I guess they also mean "front" and "behind," which does make sense....but aren't the dual meanings kind of contradictory in this context then? It's like the buttons are indicating that you, the reader, are before what is to come, but after what is behind you.

2 Answers 2


前 refers to the "front" of tangible objects (eg, a car) or the "forward" direction, but when it refer to time, 前 means "~ ago" or "previous(ly)".

  • 10年前 ten years ago
  • 前に聞いた話 a story I heard a while back
  • 前の記事 previous article
  • もっと前の出来事 an event that happened even before it

So when I see a button saying 前 on a tutorial site like TextFugu, I would expect it's the link for the previous (older) post/chapter/lesson. Apparently the 前 button in your page links to the next (newer) item, which I think is strange.

However 前 can be a bit tricky because it refers to newer items on a page where new items come first (e.g., blogs, search results, ...). On the question list of Japanese Stack Overflow (sorted by newest to oldest), the 次へ button corresponds to older questions, and 前へ corresponds to newer questions. Well, you can say prev corresponds to 前 anyway.

後 means "rear" (spatially) or "later" (temporally). I don't see it often on navigation links, but it should be a link for the newer item (the item created later than the current one).

Here are other common and unambiguous phrases found on typical "old/new" links.

  • older
    • 古い○○
    • 以前
    • 過去
  • newer, recent
    • 新しい○○
    • 最近の○○
    • 新着

In addition, 戻る ("back") and 進む ("forward") can be used on a tutorial- or novel-type site. Perhaps TextFugu have clumsily translated "back/forward" to "後/前" instead of "戻る/進む".

  • So this site's usage is strange, but not necessarily "wrong"? Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 21:27
  • @Aerovistae See my edit. I would say it's almost wrong.
    – naruto
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 6:09

I suspect that the site is wrong in the usage. Usually its something like <-前 次->

Here are examples from yahoo japan and rakuten:

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