Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Today you’ll learn a simple grammar tip to uplevel your English.

These phrases are used when asking someone about their most recent experiences.

In English conversations, how do you know whether to say ‘the last time’ or ‘last time?’

Find out in today’s episode when you have to know the difference and when it doesn’t matter.

When’s the last time you played tennis?

Aubrey is curious to know when Lindsay last played tennis.

Lindsay says she played the past weekend.

However, she hasn’t played competitively in a long time.

In today’s episode, Aubrey and Lindsay are going to be discussing referring to the last time.

Grammar rules that matter

This is high-level grammar that English students will definitely benefit from.

It’s important to know the difference in the usage of ‘the last time’ and ‘last time.’

Nailing this grammar technique will push your skills to a higher fluency level.

You will sound more native and natural in conversations.

Another way to push your English learning further is to consume a lot of content in English.

This will help you learn more ways to connect in English.

For more information on useful grammar, Aubrey and Lindsay suggest these episodes:

When was the last time?

Achieving perfect grammar is quite hard.

Lindsay and Aubrey encourage you to not hesitate to make connections because you don’t have perfect English grammar.

Even native English speakers struggle with perfect grammar.

If you have the chance to build a friendship in English, take it!

However, there are times when grammar will matter to ensure you convey your message properly.

As mentioned, in today’s episode, Lindsay and Aubrey will share how to properly use ‘last time’ and ‘the last time’ when talking about most recent experiences.

Here are two different ways to use these phrases:

1: To express finality

This is when you are talking about the final time something happened.

It is something that will never happen again.

In doing this, you would use ‘the last time’ to indicate finality.

Use the article ‘the’ to ensure you are saying it was the final time it happened.


  • The last time I spoke with my grandmother, she told me she was proud of me.
  • The last time I drove that car, it wasn’t running well.

Demonstrative pronouns

We often use demonstrative pronouns with these structures.

Examples of demonstrative pronouns are:

  • these
  • that
  • this
  • those

This adds a little emphasis.


  • That was the last time I saw him.
  • This is the last time I’m coming to this cafe. The service here is terrible.

The first example shows that you lost touch with someone.

It doesn’t mean he got lost but you will not see him again.

Similarly, with the second example, it doesn’t mean the cafe will disappear and you won’t see it anymore.

Rather, it means that she won’t be returning and it’s the end of visiting that cafe.

2: The most recent time

In this type of usage, you can use either ‘the last time’ or ‘last time.’

This will depend on which region the native English speaker is from.


  • The last time I went to the store, I bought apples.
  • Last time I went to the store, I bought apples.

Both of these examples mean the same.

They both mean the speaker went to the store recently and purchased apples.

In order to understand, you need the context of the conversation.

By default, it means they did it recently.

However, if there is more description providing context the meaning might be different.


  • We had pizza last time we went out, so tonight let’s try a Thai restaurant.
  • We had pizza the last time we went out, so tonight let’s try a Thai restaurant.

Both mean they recently ate pizza and they want to try eating at a Thai restaurant.

The tricky thing for language learners is understanding context clues.

You just have to ask follow-up questions if you feel lost.

It’s a good way to keep the conversation going.

Starting conversations

There are a lot of ways to Start conversations by asking about experiences.

Here are some sample questions:

  • When was the last time you went to the movies?
  • When was the last time you played tennis?

This can definitely help you learn more about the person you’re talking to.

A lot of native English speakers use contractions.

You may hear them say “When’s the last time you…”

Instead of pronouncing the word ‘was’, it is often combined with ‘when.’

You can say this to sound more native and natural and save time when you’re talking.


Here is a quick roleplay using the grammar tips shared in today’s episode.

In this scenario, they are having coffee together.

Aubrey: This might be the last time we meet here. It’s super crowded.
Lindsay: True. I like the place we met last time. Maybe we can try it again next time?
Aubrey: Sounds good. So, how are you? It’s been a while since the last time we talked.
Lindsay: Yeah, we’ve been playing a bit of phone tag. We’ve both been busy I think.
Aubrey: For sure. I can’t remember the last time I had any spare time.


English grammar can really be tricky.

You do not have to have perfect grammar when trying to build a connection with other people.

However, knowing and using correct grammar will help you avoid misunderstandings.

Keep bringing your grammar to a higher level but don’t make it a hindrance to connection.

What are other phrases that can be confusing?

Share one in the comments below.

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