Last, the last, the past: differences
Mixing up last and the last when speaking about time can lead to misunderstandings, so English learners should be careful about how they use them. Let’s look at the difference in meaning between last and the last.
Use last before a specific past time reference
We use last before a past time reference such as Monday, week, month, August, etc. We say:
Use the last before an unfinished period of time
|The last, the past|
We use the last and the past before an unfinished period of time. They both have the same meaning.
He's had two new cars in the last / in the past three years.
It's been too hot the last / the past few days. I hope it cools down soon.