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rán hòu
conj. then, after that, afterward
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1. 然后(conjunction) can be used in a context of the past events, present events, or future events.
Example 1a. 他踌躇了一下,然后说出了实话。 [phr] He hesitated and then told the truth.
Example 1b. 接下来我准备先出国读书,然后再考虑结婚的事。Next I prepare to study abroad first, then I will think about getting married.
Example 1c. 先听磁带,然后回答下面的问题。 [phr] First listen to the tape and then answer the question below.

2. 然后 emphasizes the sequence of different actions or events. It indicates that one action or event happens, followed by another action or event
Example 2a.她放下行李,然后坐下。 [phr] He put down the luggage, and then sat down.

For more information, please take a look at the notes of 后来 in trainchinese dictionary.
lisaC
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以后 vs 然后

1. 以后 is a noun indicating time. You can add a period of time or a point of time before 以后, e.g.
三个星期以后
5点以后

You can use 以后 as the subject or the object of a sentence, e.g.
我不关心以后。

2. 然后 cannot be used in these ways. 然后 is a conjunction that connects two phrases or clauses, e.g.
我打算先去超市,然后和你一起回家。
lisaC
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