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I can't describe it well so I'm going to tell you a sequence so that you can understand me and complete this sequence:

Next bill --> current bill --> the last/previous bill --> the bill before the last bill --> ???

What do you call "the bill before the bill that is before the last bill"? Maybe "the third bill from the current bill in the past"?

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Different people might calls these bills different things but, given four bills to distinguish, one option is:

The current bill follows the previous bill follows the penultimate bill follows the ultimate/last bill.

However, that leaves lots of room for confusion.

The previous bill just means the bill before the one you're talking about. And the last bill could be the bill you referred to last.

Much better to number the bills or sort them by date (or some other method) if you want to eliminate confusion.

  • "The current bill follows the previous bill follows the penultimate bill follows the ultimate/last bill." I see a problem where the what you describe as the "ultimate bill" is actually the "first bill" since it occurred the earliest in time. Previous/ultimate/last should all be the same bill relative to the current bill, where penultimate is the one before that. – Duncan Aug 3 '18 at 16:42
  • @Duncan As I said, much better to sort them by date. – Ronald Sole Aug 3 '18 at 18:46
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  • the current bill
  • the previous bill or the last bill
  • the next-to-last bill

next to last is used in regular conversation.

However, a word of caution, last can have another meaning:

The last bill I received was two months ago. So, the company can have sent you your current bill. And the one before it (the previous or last one), and one before that (the next-to-last one).

The last one you received may have been the next-to-last one issued by the company.

next-to-last is also penultimate, yes.

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