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I know there are different ways to translate "later," depending on context.

  • más tarde
  • después
  • luego
  • entonces
  • en otra ocasión

And perhaps others?

How can I decide which translation of "later" to use in different contexts? When is each appropriate and/or inappropriate?

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This is more of a wild guess, but I'd think it would depend on the country or region, and the formality of your translation. In Mexico, the more common is probably "hasta luego" (but not just "luego"). –  Roflo Jan 31 '13 at 2:00
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"hasta luego" is "see you later", in this case the user is asking only about "later". –  David Jan 31 '13 at 14:24
    
@Roflo: So you would translate "I will help you later" as "Te ayudaré hasta luego"? I've never heard that before. –  Flimzy Jan 31 '13 at 20:08
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Sorry, my bad. I thought you meant "later" as a complete statement. Somewhat of a short form of "Later, guys!". –  Roflo Jan 31 '13 at 22:10
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3 Answers

'Later' has many literal translations that Flimzy already pointed in his question. I was refering to the use of 'later' as 'see you later' in English and in Spanish it's 'Hasta luego'. And about when to use each word in the question I'd say: 'después, (after some event), 'entonces, (at a certain time) and 'más tarde', 'luego' and 'en otra ocasión' refer to diferent times in the future, 'luego' being the closest one to the present, refering to some minutes, and 'en otra ocasión' refering to many days in the future.

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Welcome to Spanish.SE, and I appreciate you taking the time to answer, however, this is only a partial answer. Would you be willing to expand your answer somewhat? –  Flimzy Jan 31 '13 at 19:56
    
'Later' has many literal translations that Flimzy already pointed in his question. I was refering to the use of 'later' as 'see you later' in English and in Spanish it's said 'Hasta luego'. And about when to use each word in the question id say: después (after some event) entonces (at a certain time) And 'más tarde', 'luego' and 'en otra ocasión' refer to diferent times in the future, 'luego' being the closest one to the present, referin to some minutes, and 'en otra ocasión' refering to many days in the future. –  IBueno Feb 1 '13 at 7:44
    
@IBueno you can edit your answer to include there your comment. Right now the answer itself is incomplete. –  JoulSauron Feb 1 '13 at 21:36
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These suggestions should be taken lightly (I don't think there's a definitive answer), but a rough guideline would be to consider the following:

  • más tarde - sometime later
  • después - afterwards
  • luego - later
  • entonces - then
  • en otra ocasión - some other time

In english, if asked "Could you take the trash out?", it doesn't make much sense to just answer "afterwards". In spanish it does, but it might give the impression that you're not interested.

If used at the beginning of a sentence as a way to tie to the previous idea, they're pretty much interchangeable, except for "en otra ocasión":

Más tarde, se reunió con sus amigos.
Después fueron a comer juntos.
Luego fueron a tomar café.
Entonces decidieron ir al cine.
En otra ocasión irían a jugar billar.

Here, the first 4 statements state an action that happened after the previous statement. The fifth statement refers to another event altogether.

Translated back to English, we'd have something like:

Sometime later, he gathered with some friends.
Afterwards, they had lunch together.
Later they went to have some coffee.
Then they decided to go to the movies.
Some other time they'd go play billiards.

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For me the most appropriated translation to "later" in general is más tarde.

  • Después is "after"
  • luego can be translation for "later" in expressions as "¡Hasta luego!" (See you later!) or as Chewie pointed in sentences as "Bajaré la basura luego.", "Luego iré a tu casa". In last two examples if you use "más tarde" instead of "luego" it also makes perfect sense.
  • entonces is "then"
  • en otra ocasión is like "in other occasion/situation" or "in another moment".

So generally I would suggest you to translate "later" as más tarde, but you can use después in a context where "later" can be replaced by "after", entonces when "later" has a meaning like "then", etc...

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"Después" can also mean "later". —¿Vas a bajar la basura? —Después. "Luego" is also a perfect translation for "later" as is, not only in Hasta luego. —¿Vas a bajar la basura? —Luego. –  Chewie Jan 31 '13 at 16:48
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