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  15.3.4 prepositions dopo - 1

Dopo corresponds to the English preposition after and can be used to describe temporal relationships and relationships in space

Non lo si può chiamare dopo le sei
After six o' clock you can' t call him anymore.
Dopo l' incrocio deve girare a destra.
After the crossroads you have to turn to the right.

The author doubts that you are going to have problems to distinguish between the preposition dopo and the conjunction dopo che, but theoretically this is possible because after in English can be used as a preposition and as a conjuction. Nevertheless the author believes that you are going to be able to distinguish between them intuitively. Perhaps it helps discuss a little bit about the difference. Let's have a look at these sentences.

Dopo averlo detto è andato via.
After having said that, he went away.
Dopo che lei gli aveva detto che non lo amava più, si è suicidato.
After she had said him that she didn' t love him anymore he committed suicide.

If we want to know why in the first sentence after is to be translated with dopo and in the second sentence with dopo che we have to understand that in the first case after is a preposition in the second case a conjunction. The After having in the first sentence is a gerund and a gerund is substantivated verb and can be substituted by any noun.

After having said that he went away.
After dinner he went away.

Dopo averlo detto è andato via.
Dopo pranzo è andato via.

We already know that in front of a noun (the gerund is some kind of noun, is a substantivated verb) we have to use a preposition and so in Italian we have to use dopo.

The second sentence is completely different from a grammatical point of view. In this case after introduces a temporale clause and temporal clause, as any other subordinate clause, is introduced by a conjunction. The after in the second sentence is a conjunction and has to be translated with a conjunction.

It is important to understand the difference between a preposition and a conjunction. A conjunction introduces a subordinate clause.

Dopo che mi ha lasciato sono stato male per mesi.
After she had left me, I felt bad for month.

There is a second problem, at least from a grammatical point of view. We have said that dopo and after can describe a relation in time and that was true for our example.

After the crossroads you have to turn to the right.

But after / dopo can be used to describe a relation in space only if there is a movement. To describe a static relations you have to use the preposition behind in English and dietro in Italian.

Dietro la casa c' è un giardino.
Behind the house there is a garden.
La luce è per la prima volta dietro le sue spalle, come la vita.
The light as well as the life for the first time were behind his back.

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