1

Last week we worked on the new feature for our product.

The following issues have been closed for the latest week.

Are both phrases correct? If they are, then why we don't use any article with "last week", but use "the"-article with "the latest week"?

  • We don't really say "the latest week". Is there a reason why you don't want to use "last week"? – Andrew Jul 19 at 16:31
2

Example #2 (the latest week) is a "timeless" reference. That's to say, it could in principle refer to the most recent of any contextually relevant set of weeks, whereas example #1 can only refer to the week immediately preceding "time of utterance" (or "time of writing", here).

There is more to think about, though. It's currently Friday afternoon July 19th. If I write...

A: I earned £1000 last week
B: I earned £1000 in the last week (or the past week, which is equivalent here)

...most people would probably understand A as meaning I earned that much during the week lasting from Mon 8th - Sun 14th (I don't want to get bogged down in whether weeks run Mon-Sun, Sun-Sat, or whatever). But B would normally be understood as referring to my earnings this week (being the most recent working week which is "more or less complete" by Friday afternoon).

But note that I could precede B above with some "non-current" temporal context, such as...

C: I've just finished my accounts for June. I earned £1000 in the last week

...which would mean I earned that much in the final week of June. Note that it wouldn't make sense to do this with version A above. Nor would it be possible to replace last with past in C, because the past week always means the same as last week (they're both always relative to today, now).


Superficially this may look confusing, since the last week in B is later than last week in A, but it's much earlier than that in example C. The way to look at it is first to recognise that article-less last week is the standard way to reference the week preceding the one during which an utterance is made (that week is definitely in the past, since we're now in a later current week).

If a native speaker chooses to include the article, he's "overriding" that standard sense to some degree. Usually this is because he wants to reference the current week which is now just ending.


The latest week simply means the most recent of the contextually relevant weeks. It wouldn't normally be used in contexts A and B above, where last is the natural choice (weeks considered relative to today), but it could be used in example C (where it would refer to the latest of the June weeks for which I did my accounts).

-1

"Last week" is an idiom in English, and it is used without an article just because we copy the way we are used to hearing it.

In normal conversation, if we wanted to refer to that time period, we would use that idiom, but in your example (especially considering the corporate-like context), "the latest week" sounds like it refers to a specific "week" within some formal system of accounting or administration based on sequential weeks. The writer may have chosen that wording to express that he wasn't just casually talking about some informal period of time, but the most recent period of some officially designated sequence of weeks.

In any case, this phrase would be a phrase that was constructed creatively by its user, so it should follow the rules of English. Since it refers to a specific time period (not just any week, but the latest one), it needs to be preceded by "the".

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