What Does It Mean to Be After Someone or Something?

    What Does It Mean to Be After Someone or Something?

    The phrase “be after” is a common idiom in English that can have different meanings depending on the context. Here are some of the most common ways to use “be after” in a sentence:

    • To be looking for someone or something or trying to find or get them or it: The police are after him. I’m after a tie to go with this shirt. He’s after Jane’s job.
    • To be about to do or having just finished something. This usage is primarily heard in Ireland: I’m after doing my homework and am ready for a snack.
    • To be following someone or something in sequential order: B is after A in the alphabet.

    The phrase “be after” can also be used with other words to form different expressions, such as:

    • Be after someone’s blood: To be very angry with someone and want to harm them: She’s after his blood for breaking her vase.
    • Be after someone’s own heart: To have similar interests, opinions, or qualities as someone: He loves books and music. He’s a man after my own heart.
    • Be what someone is after: To be what someone wants or needs: This is a great shop if what you’re after is a gift that she will truly treasure.

    The phrase “be after” is an informal way of speaking and writing, so it may not be appropriate for formal or academic contexts. However, it is a useful and versatile idiom that can help you express yourself more clearly and naturally in everyday situations.


    How to Use Be After in Different Tenses

    The phrase “be after” can be used in different tenses to talk about the past, present, or future. Here are some examples:

    • Present simple: We use the present simple to talk about general facts, habits, or routines: She is always after new clothes. They are after a promotion at work.
    • Present continuous: We use the present continuous to talk about actions happening now or around now: What are you after doing? He is after buying a new car.
    • Past simple: We use the past simple to talk about completed actions in the past: The police were after him for a long time. I was after a good book to read.
    • Past continuous: We use the past continuous to talk about actions in progress in the past: She was after making dinner when the phone rang. They were after winning the game when it started to rain.
    • Future simple: We use the future simple to talk about predictions, plans, or intentions for the future: I will be after graduating next year. She will be after his blood if he breaks her vase again.
    • Future continuous: We use the future continuous to talk about actions that will be in progress at a specific time in the future: At this time tomorrow, I will be after flying to New York. He will be after studying for his exam all night.

    The phrase “be after” can also be used with modal verbs, such as can, could, should, would, might, etc. Modal verbs are used to express ability, possibility, permission, obligation, advice, etc. Here are some examples:

    • We can also use be after should, could, would, will, can, and must: 1 You should be ashamed. 2 This could be interesting. 3 I would be happy to help. 4 They will be traveling next week. 5 This dish can be eaten hot or cold. 6 He worked all night; he must be tired.
    • We can also use be after with other modal verbs like may, might, need, ought to, etc.: 1 You may be after a rest. 2 She might be after some advice. 3 They needn’t be after anything else. 4 He ought to be after his own happiness.


    Hi, I’m Adam Smith

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