in the last/past few years

Discussion in 'English Only' started by yukinohana, Mar 16, 2009.

  1. yukinohana Senior Member

    Hello, is the phrase "in the last few years" the same meaning as the phrase "in the past few years"?
    Thanks a lot!
  2. chamyto

    chamyto Senior Member

    Burgos, Spain
    I don´t know,
    but I tend to use in the last few years.

    Any native speaker to give a suggestion?
  3. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    I'd say they mean pretty much the same thing, Yukinohana. I'd use both.
  4. hence Junior Member

    Le Monde
    They're both the same!
  5. TFG New Member

    English - Australian
    Actually, "last" really refers to something that is final (as in "coming after all others"), except where it is used to refer to the most recent thing finished eg "her last book" or "last year". However, because it refers to the final thing you can't really have a "last few" of anything, which is why we use the phrase "past few years". It means, specifically, that several years have gone past (as in they are over, complete, in the past). I know people seem to use the expressions "last few years" and "past few years" interchangeably, but that doesn't mean they are the same thing.
  6. ManMade New Member

    I think it's "to err..." as in "Errare humanum est," and not "to erm..." as you have it written in your signature line.
    Other than that, the proper thing to say would be:"in the past few years."

  7. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    Welcome to the forum!

    I think you've misread the intent of ewie's signature line, as well as the pun made from using the last letter of "ermm," which suggests hesitation, as the first letter of the title "moderator" (of this forum). Were there really an error here, I think it would have been pointed out and corrected well before a post count of 22,000+. :)
  8. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Welcome to the forum! (Perhaps you will return more frequently than TFG above :D )

    Egmont has explained the humour you missed and I will say the original question was also correctly answered: both "in the last few years" and "in the past few years" are very widely used in both British and American English. In fact, last is more common than past in the expression "in the XXXX few years".

    This is reflected in the dictionary definition


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