last / past

In some situations, you can use last and past interchangeably with no difference in meaning:

  • The economy has improved in the past month.
  • The economy has improved in the last month.

    When used with time, the word past always requires the or this – but the word last does not.

  • Last weekend I went to the beach.
  • This past weekend I went to the beach.

    Past weekend I went to the beach.

  • I started a new job last year.

    I started a new job past year.

  • I’ve been very busy the last few days. or I’ve been very busy the past few days.
  • The company has hired several new people in the past month. or The company has hired several new people in the last month.

    There is also a difference between “last year” and “in the last/past year.”

  • If it is September of 2014.
  • “last year” means the year 2013 (January – December) o “in the last/past year” means “in the most recent 12 months up to now: (September 2013 – September 2014).