I'm sure you've heard 'last' before, haven't you? Then, join me and we will learn all about it.

How To Use "Last" in English

'Last' is a common word among Native English speakers. It can be a determiner, an adjective, an adverb, a noun, a pronoun, and a verb. In this lesson, we will discuss how to learn and use it.

Functions of 'Last'

'Last' as a Determiner

One of the functions of 'last' is to be a determiner. Below, we are going to learn all about the kind of determiner it is:


'Last' as the Central Determiner

'Last' can modify nouns and be the central determiner in a sentence. Look at the following examples for more clarification:

I finished 'Find Me' by Andre Aciman last week.

Did Ross say he texted me last night?

Position in a Sentence

As you are already familiar, determiners come before a noun or a noun phrase and modify them. So, when we have 'last' as a determiner, it always comes before nouns or noun phrases. Look at the following examples:

Last July, I went to a rock-themed café.

They let me take a walk by the beach last night.


Please note that when we have a determiner before 'last', it becomes a post-determiner. Compare the following examples:

I miss our last trip to Rome.

Here, we have a possessive determiner.

I told the children to watch a cartoon last night.

Here, 'last' is the central determiner in the sentence.

'Last' as an Adjective

'Last' can also function as an adjective. Below, we will learn more about it:


'Last' as an Attributive Adjective

'Last' comes before nouns and modifies them; so, we call it an attributive adjective. Check out the following list:

  • It means 'final':

My last job was emotionally draining.

The last city Jeremy visited was Geneva in Switzerland.

  • When something has happened recently, we use 'last' to indicate it:

These last projects have taken most of my time.

When you came to visit me last night, I was really happy.

  • When we want to say that we do not really like to do something, we use 'last' to refer to it:

The last thing I want right now is to work.

As Hannah cried, she said that signing her name in the Book of the Beast was the last thing she was willing to do.

Position in a Sentence

When 'last' is an adjective in the sentence, it mainly comes before nouns and after determiners; because of that, it can also be called a post-determiner. Let us check the following examples:

It's been a while since the last time I had Pasta for dinner.

Tell me the name of the last series you watched.

'Last' as an Adverb

Another function of 'last' is to be an adverb. Below, we are going to learn about the kinds of adverbs it can be:


'Last' as an Adverb of Time

'Last' as an adverb of time can be used to show the recent time something has happened. Look below:

When did you see granny last?

Here, it is asking about the most recent time of the action.

Dequincy talked to his girlfriend last.

'Last' as an Adverb of Place

'Last' can also be an adverb of place. In a series of events, thoughts, items, people, etc. we refer to the final one using 'last'. Examine the examples below:

In literature, the boys came last.

Bake the vegetables and last, decorate the plate with them.

Position in a Sentence

Since 'last' is an adverb here, it mainly comes after verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs to modify them. Study the following examples:

We discussed this book together and last, we all decided to watch a movie together.

The poor woman and her children came in last.


Please note that whenever we have an adverb at the beginning of the sentence, we must always have a comma after it.

'Last' as a Verb


'Last' can also be the main verb in the sentence. Study the following list to understand all its different meanings as the main verb:

  • When something/someone still exists, we use 'last' to refer to it:

Feelings don't last. They just come and go.

The managers' meeting lasted an hour and a half.

  • When we want to show that something continues to be useful/good:

This house will last 50 years if you redecorate it.

The plants we bought only lasted a few months.

Position in a Sentence

Since 'last' is the main verb here, it mainly comes after the subject. Look at the examples below:

The whole conference lasted an hour.

I don't think any love will ever last these days.

'Last' as a Noun


'Last' can be a noun. It is followed by 'of'. Look at the following examples:

Who wants to have the last slice of this delicious cake?

Joanna ate the last piece of meat, didn't she?

Position in a Sentence

Since 'last' is a noun here, it can be part of the subject, the object, and the object of a preposition. Look at the following examples:

The last of the pizza was the best one.

Here, 'last' is the subject.

Who got the last of the ice cream?

As you can see, 'last' is the object of the verb here.

'Last' as a Pronoun


'Last' can also be a pronoun. As you know, we use pronouns to avoid repeating nouns in sentences. Look at the following examples to see how we use 'last' as a pronoun:

His new book was worse than the last.

Tarantino's latest movie is as thought provoking as the last.

Position in a Sentence

Since we use 'last' as a pronoun to avoid useless repetition, we replace it with the noun we are removing. It mainly comes after a determiner. Look below:

I thought this pizza would be better than the last.

I personally like my new wallpaper better than the last.

Idioms and Expressions with 'Last'

We have many idioms and expressions with 'last'. Below, we are going to learn all about them:

  • At long last: When a long time has passed:

At long last, her dreams came through.

They were free at long last.

  • Every last: When we want to emphasize all the things/people in a community, we use this:

The doctors demanded you take care of every last cat.

  • Famous last words: When some people think someone is being too confident, they use this:

A : The manager said that he was going to announce his resignation.

B : Famous last words!

  • The last but one: When one thing before the final one has remained:

A : Is this the last book?

B : No, it's the last but one.

  • The last minute: When we delay something to the last opportunity we have for it:

He always reviews his lessons at the last minute.

By doing all your homework at the last minute, you only get nervous in the class.

  • Last but not least: When something is important, although it has been mentioned as the last one:

And last but not least, it is important that you work in a healthy environment.

  • The last someone saw/heard of something/someone: When we want to indicate the last piece of information we have of someone/something:

A phone call was the last I heard of her.

When I travelled to Mexico City was the last I saw Jenny.

  • Down to the last: When we want to indicate that all the details in something are important:

He counted all the members down to the last.

The judge analyzed all the information provided down to the last.

  • As a last resort: When we want to consider the failure of all other options:

As a last resort, I say we ask dad.

We should think of surrendering as a last resort, though.

  • On its last legs: When something is in such a terrible state that they will no longer be functioning properly:

Unfortunately, this engine is on its last legs.

It seems that this house is on its legs.


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