Should I Use Consequently or Subsequently?


Posted by Jake Magnum | January 11, 2018 | This or That?


The words consequently and subsequently have similar meanings and, therefore, are often confused by writers. Today’s This or That? article will explore the difference between these two terms.

As stated, consequently and subsequently have similar meanings. Both words denote that the occurrence of one event has led to the occurrence of a second, related event.

The difference between the words hinges on the way in which the first event has led to the second event. If the first event causes or forces the second event–that is, once the first event has occurred, the second event has to occur–the word consequently is appropriate.

Example: Janice quit the swim team and, consequently, did not participate in the final swim meet.

(Janice’s act of quitting forced her to miss the final swim meet.)

If the first event leads to the second event or allows for the second event to take place, but the second event does not absolutely have to happen when the first occurs, subsequently is appropriate.

Example: Janice quit the swim team and, subsequently, spent more time training for track.

(Janice’s quitting allowed her to spend more time training for track, but she was not forced to do so; she could have spent more time on homework, being social, etc.)

It should also be noted that neither consequently nor subsequently should be used if the occurrence of two events are not strongly related or linked in any way. If two events just happen to occur one after the other without the first being a reason for the second, it best to simply use then rather than to try to be fancy.

Example: Janice went shopping and then met a friend for lunch.