to follow (after)

sam_net

Member
Russian
"She was to the southwest of him, moving faster than he could walk. He followed after her in the bright moonlight."

I always thought that the pattern is "follow smb/smth", not "follow after". What is more, my dictionaries don't mention "follow after" at all. And yet it is used.

So, is there any difference? For example:
"He went out of the room. I followed him."
"He went out of the room. I followed after him."
 
  • Ecossaise

    Senior Member
    English
    It's sloppy English, but recognizable. "Follow" implies being behind (after) something, so this is a tautologous sentence. Of your examples, the first is correct, the second is a tautology, but often seen.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    It's sloppy English, but recognizable. "Follow" implies being behind (after) something, so this is a tautologous sentence. Of your examples, the first is correct, the second is a tautology, but often seen.

    If it's sloppy English, it's old sloppy English. :) It's very common in the King James Version of the Bible. I'm not convinced that it's simply sloppy English.

    If I say, "The king came by. His courtiers followed him." it would mean something different to me than "The king came by. His courtiers followed after him." The first indicates a order of events, such as relative positions in a parade or a procession. The second indicates that the courtiers are tagging along behind the king. In other words, their attention is on the king in the second case, and not necessarily on the king at all in the first case. That's all personal interpretation. I'd be interested in hearing if other people see them as communicating different shades of meaning.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Based on some dictionary browsing and a good look at the examples in the Bible, it seems that if I exaggerate the difference a little:
    Follow, by itself, is a statement of sequence in space or time.
    Follow after is a statement of volition, of active pursuit.
     

    l3376876

    Banned
    Chinese, Taiwan
    Based on some dictionary browsing and a good look at the examples in the Bible, it seems that if I exaggerate the difference a little:
    Follow, by itself, is a statement of sequence in space or time.
    Follow after is a statement of volition, of active pursuit.

    Awesome final say!:thumbsup: Ditto, Pan.
     

    AmazingraceofGod

    New Member
    Spanish
    Some times follow after could mean "according with" or "in obedience". Judge if it is right in this example: "Not every act of the king's life was as the Lord would have desired, but his pattern was to follow after God".
     
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