Sequence and Actions: それから and てから

In Japanese, それから (sore kara) and てから (te kara) are two essential expressions used to indicate sequence and actions. Though they might seem similar at first glance, they have distinct usages and connotations. Let's delve into the differences and see how each is used with practical examples.

それから (Sore Kara)

それから 、 にちようび 、 えいが を みました 。 - After that, on Sunday, I watched a movie.

それから 、 ゆうびんきょく に いきました 。 - After that, I went to the post office.

In both examples, それから is used to link two actions in a sequence, indicating what happened next. It's a straightforward way to narrate events in the order they occurred.

てから (Te Kara)

しごと を してから 、 ビデオゲーム を します 。 - After work, I play video games.

てれび を みてから 、 ねます 。 - After watching TV, I go to sleep.

In these examples, てから clearly indicates that the second action (playing video games or going to bed) only happens after the first action (working or watching TV) is completed. It emphasizes the dependency of the second action on the completion of the first.

Key Differences

  1. Structure:
    • それから: Connects two separate sentences.
    • てから: Used within a single sentence to link two actions.
  2. Chronological Emphasis:
    • それから: Simply narrates what happened next.
    • てから: Stresses that the second action occurs after the first action is completed.
  3. Formality and Context:
    • それから: Commonly used in both written and spoken Japanese.
    • てから: More versatile in expressing conditional sequences within a sentence.

Combining Both in a Narrative

To fully grasp how both can be used, consider the following narrative that combines それから and てから:

にちようび 、 ともだち に あってから 、 えいが を みました 。 - On Sunday, after meeting my friend, I watched a movie.

それから 、 レストラン で ばんごはん を たべました 。 - After that, I had dinner at a restaurant.

In this example, てから is used to indicate that the movie was watched after meeting the friend, and それから is used to indicate the next action, having dinner, in a sequence.


Both それから and てから are invaluable in Japanese for expressing sequences and dependencies between actions. Understanding their nuances will not only enhance your Japanese language skills but also make your storytelling and daily conversations more coherent and natural. By practicing these expressions and incorporating them into your sentences, you'll gain greater fluency and confidence in using Japanese.