Subsequently or consequently?

02 Mar

These two words are to do with cause and effect (or not), and of Thing B happening after Thing A. But they don’t mean the same, even if people think they do!

Something is consequent when it follows on from something else as a consequence, i.e. as the result or effect of that first thing. “She dyed her brown hair platinum blonde and consequently stood out in the crowd” – so, she stood out from the crowd because she had platinum blonde hair.

Something is subsequent when it merely follows on from something else in time, i.e. not as a result or effect of that first thing. “She had brown hair and subsequently went blonde” – she didn’t go blonde because she had brown hair, it was just the next thing that happened. She could have had black, red or blue hair first; the original hair colour doesn’t affect the outcome.

“She had black hair before she dyed it red, consequently she had to bleach it first before applying the red dye subsequently”. I don’t think anyone would actually ever utter that sentence, but hopefully it explains matters!

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


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2 responses to “Subsequently or consequently?

  1. Paul Mead

    March 2, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Here is an idea; if you are still not sure which word should be used. Substitute “consequent” or “subsequent” with the word “therefore” – if the sentence still works – then you should be using “consequent” – look at the example above and see how that works.

    Hope this helps.


    • Liz at Libro

      March 2, 2012 at 10:30 am

      Thank you, Paul – that works with subsequently / consequently very well although not so well with the straight subsequent/consequent.



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