I've been noticing the following phrases and am puzzled by the inconsistency in using the definite article in them. How does one know where to use the definite article and where not to use it? What is considered formal and what is not?
Next time vs the next time
- Pinkman: "The next time, put an ice pack on your head during chemo."
- The next time you’re in Ireland, you must come and visit us.
- He will pay for food next time.
- Next time you see him, tell him the truth.
- Maybe next time.
- Next time when our band rehearses, I'll be playing the drums.
Last time vs the last time
What about last time?
Last time I saw you, you looked upset.
The last time I saw him was at his wedding.
He sprouted a beard since the last time I saw him.
I paid last time so it's your turn.
Last time I went to the dentist I had to have two teeth out.
Where did we leave off last time?