Last, the last, the latest

Last

When we say last week, last month or last year (without the) we are speaking about the week, month or year immediately before the current one.

Let’s say it’s now August 2017. Therefore, last month was July and last year was 2016.

  • I saw Jack last week. He sends his regards.
  • I turned forty last year. I had a big party with the whole family.

The last

We use the last week to talk about the period of seven days up to the moment of speaking.

Let’s say today is Wednesday 9 August. The last week is therefore the period from Wednesday 2 August until today.

  • I’ve been ill for the last week.
    = I got ill seven days ago and I’m still ill.

Likewise, we use the last month to talk about the period of thirty days up to the moment of speaking, and the last year to talk about a period of twelve months until now.

  • I’ve been working in this country for the last year, and I like it very much. I plan to stay for another year.

We can also say the last hour:

  • The shop hasn’t had any customers in the last hour.

The last three, the last few

We can say the last three, the last four, etc. We also say the last few:

  • They’ve been on holiday for the last two weeks, so I haven’t seen my colleagues.
  • Sorry I didn’t come to visit: I’ve been busy for the last few weeks.

The last = the final

The last can also mean the final (in a series):

  • I’m going to Spain in the last week of August.
    = the fourth week in August
  • Chelsea lost the last match of the season.
    = the final match of the season

The latest

We use the latest, his latest, etc. to express that something is new or the most recent in a series:

  • Andy Taylor is the latest person to leave the company. That makes a total of six so far this year.
  • Have you heard Adele’s latest song? It’s great!
    her latest song = her new song

Be careful – don’t confuse the latest and the last:

  • I like her latest song. It’s much better than her last song.
    her latest song = her new song
    her last song = her previous song (the one before the new one)