When should we use the article "the" and why do we sometimes just omit it?

1) Last year I went to London! (instead of: "the last year"...)
2) I was ill last week. (instead of "the last week"
3) I was sick the day before yesterday.
4) The year before last. (instead of: year before last.)

  • You can't do it like that. What if I asked you that question in Portuguese or Spanish about similar prepositions? Also, you have in and under, and you also mention Last year. There is never in English, the before last year in that sense: last year, last month, last week. Whereas Portuguese or Spanish there is always an article. Always. Only in special circumstances would there be a /the in English: The last year I was there was in 2000.
    – Lambie
    Jun 5, 2017 at 18:59

1 Answer 1


Interesting question.

Last year I went to London

is correct, with no article, possibly because exactly "when" is not stated.


In the last year I went to London

is correct, where "last year" is a specific time period.

If you say

The last year I went to London

people will be wondering "Which year was that?"

Your other possibilities all cite a specific time period and are correct.

I was ill the last week.
I was ill all of last week

I was sick the day before yesterday.
I was sick specifically two days ago

The year before last.
the specific year two years ago

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