How to use sequencers in English: FIRST, THEN, NEXT, AFTER THAT, FINALLY

Sequencers are words that organize your writing and speaking, words like “first”, “next”, “then”, “after that”, and “finally”. We often use sequencers in English when we give instructions, describe a process, or tell stories. Using sequencers is a simple trick that improves your writing and speaking because it organizes your ideas into sections and gives them an order. Watch the video and you will see how sequencers can help others understand you more clearly. Next, take the quiz at


Hello. My name is Emma, and in today’s video I am going to teach you about sequencers. So, “sequencers” are words like: “First”, “Next”, “Then”, “After that”, and “Finally”. We use sequencers when we are talking about steps or the order of doing things. So, we will use sequencers when we tell stories. We use sequencers when we give instructions, such as how to do something. Okay? Because when we tell someone how to do something, we’re giving them a lot of different steps, and so sequencers help us organize these steps. Okay, so let’s get started and let’s see some examples of how we use sequencers.

So, I have here my five steps: “First”, “Next”, “Then”, “After that”, and “Finally”. These are the sequencers we’re focusing on in today’s lesson. So, I want you to imagine you want to tell somebody how to make a hamburger. Okay? When you make a hamburger, there are different steps to making a hamburger.

“First, you take a bun. Next, you put lettuce on the bun. Then you add a hamburger or the meat. After that, maybe you put ketchup or mustard. And finally, you put on the top bun and you eat it.” So, these are the five steps in making a hamburger. That’s just an example of how we would use this type of language. Okay?

So, when we’re using sequencers, “First” always comes first. Okay? So, notice “First” is number one. So, when we’re giving instructions or we’re giving steps, this is how we would start. When we’re ending our instructions or at the end of what we’re saying, when we’re giving a how-to or telling somebody how to do something, we can end with this word: “Finally”. So, “First” is the first thing you say, “Finally” is the last, and then we have these three: “Next”, “Then”, and “After that”. They all mean the same thing, so you can use “Then” as your second step; you can use “After that” as your final step; you can use these interchangeably. So, it doesn’t matter the order of these three. “First”, “Then”, “Next”, “After that”, “Finally” – we can use sequencers in that way, too.

So, let’s think of some more examples. I want you to use these in your own life, or think about ways you can use these in your own life. I want you to think about when you woke up this morning. What were five things you did? And think about the order you did them in. So, maybe: First, you heard your alarm clock. Okay? So, first, you woke up and you heard your alarm clock. What’s the second thing that happened? Well, maybe if you’re like me: Next, I had a shower. I took a shower. Okay. After that, I ate breakfast. Then I brushed my teeth. And finally… Oo, what did I do “finally” this morning? I think I went for a walk. Okay? So, those were the five things I did this morning in the order I did them.

So, I want you to try: Think about the five things you did this morning. And you can say them out loud to practice. Okay? So: First, you… Next… Then… After that… And: Finally… So let’s look at another example of how we can use these sequencers.

So, one of my favourite things in life is drinking tea; I love tea. So, I am going to use sequencers to teach you how to make a cup of tea. So, first thing I want to use is the word “First”. The first thing you do is first: You boil the water. Okay? So, you boil water; you make it very hot. Then you add tea to your cup. Okay? Maybe you have a tea bag. Next, you add the hot water to the cup. After that, add milk and sugar. Finally, you stir it and you drink it. Okay?

So, these are steps in making a cup of tea. Now, if I wanted to, I could go and make more steps. Okay? And I can use some of these multiple times. So, maybe I can use “Then” to talk about: Then you let the tea steep or you let the tea… You… I don’t know. Then you add honey. So, there are other steps you might add. And you can use some of these sequencers multiple times. Again, the main thing is: Use “First” for the first step, and “Finally” for the last step. Let’s look at one more example of using sequencers when we’re talking about how to do something.

Okay, so let me tell you about a true story. I have a friend named Lucy, and she is beautiful, smart, funny; she’s a wonderful woman, and right now she’s looking for a boyfriend. So, she asked me for advice: Emma, how can I find the man of my dreams? […]


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