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.
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.