last - lastly

last - lastly
Last is used as an adjective or an adverb.
'last' used as an adjective
The last thing, event, or person of a particular kind is the one that comes after all the others.

He missed the last bus.

They met for the last time just before the war.

He was the last man out of Esseph at the time of its earthquake.

If you want to emphasize that someone or something is the last one of their kind, you can put `very' in front of last.

Those were his very last words.

Gillian and I would stand outside our doors until the very last minute.

Latest is sometimes used in a similar way. See entry at ↑ latest - last.
'last' used as an adverb
If something last happened on a particular occasion, it has not happened since then.

They last saw their homeland nine years ago.

It's a long time since we met last.

If an event is the final one in a series of similar events, you can say that it happens last. You put last at the end of a clause.

He added the milk last.

Mr Ross was meant to have gone first, but in fact went last.

You can also use lastly to say that an event is the final one in a series. You put lastly at the beginning of a clause.

Lastly he jabbed the knife hard into the trunk of the tree.

However, last and lastly are not always used in the same way. You usually use last to say that an event is the final one in a series of similar events. You use lastly when you are talking about events which are not similar.
For example, if you say `George rang his aunt last', you usually mean that George had rung several people and that his aunt was the last person he rang. If you say `Lastly George rang his aunt', you mean that George had done several things and that the last thing he did was to ring his aunt.
Lastly has a much more common use. You use it to introduce a final point in a discussion, ask a final question, give a final instruction, or mention a final item in a list.

And lastly, we need to examine the extent to which the relative value of benefits has changed.

Lastly I would like to ask about your future plans.

'at last'
At last and at long last are used to indicate that something that you have been waiting for or expecting for a long time has happened. These expressions usually go at the beginning or end of a clause.

I'm free at last.

At long last I've found a girl who really loves me.

'last' with time expressions
You use last in front of a word such as `week' or `month' to say when something happened. For example, if it is August and something happened in July, you say that it happened last month.

He opened up another shop last month.

The group held its first meeting last week.

Note that you do not say that something happened `the last month' or `the last week'.
Last can be used in a similar way in front of the names of festivals, seasons, months, or days of the week.

Last Christmas he insisted on dressing up as Santa Claus.

She died last autumn.

Police seized other documents at his home last March.

We saw a rare sight last Saturday.

However, you do not use last like this in front of `decade' or `century'. You do not say, for example, that something happened `last decade'. You say that it happened in the last decade or during the last decade.

This was well known during the last century.

You also do not say `last morning' or `last afternoon'. You say yesterday morning or yesterday afternoon.

It's not so warm this morning as it was yesterday morning.

Yesterday afternoon we drove down the road from Wells Summit.

You do not say `last evening'. You say yesterday evening or last night.

The students voted to endorse the `sit-in' already initiated by 150 left-wing extremists yesterday evening.

I've been thinking about what we said last night.

'previous' and 'before'
When you are describing something that happened in the past and you want to refer to an earlier period of time, you use previous or before instead of `last'. For example, if you are talking about events that happened in 1983 and you want to mention something that happened in 1982, you say that it happened the previous year or the year before.

We had had a row the previous night.

His village had been destroyed the previous summer.

The two had met in Bonn the weekend before.

The quarrel of the night before seemed forgotten.

'before last'
You use before last to refer to the period of time immediately before the most recent one of its kind. For example, the year before last means `the year before last year'.

Eileen was visiting friends made on a camping holiday the year before last.

`When did he arrive?' —-`The afternoon before last.'

'the last'
You can also use last to refer to any period of time measured back from the present. For example, if it is July 16th and you want to refer to the period from July 2nd to the present, you refer to it as the last fortnight. Note that you must use `the'. If you want to say that something happened during this period, you say that it happened in the last fortnight or during the last fortnight.

How many passports issued in the last hundred days remain to be checked?

All this has happened during the last few years.

Note the order of words in these examples. You do not say `the hundred last days' or `the few last years'.

Useful english dictionary. 2012.

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