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When "the first time", "the last time", "the next time" are followed by a adverbial clauses of time, can "the" be omitted? Can "first time", "last time", "next time" be followed by adverbial clauses of time? Does the following sentences sound natural to you, native speakers?

"The first time I came here, I had the best night’s sleep for months."

"first time I came here, I had the best night’s sleep for months."

"Last time I took my pulse, it was a bit fast. "

"The last time we moved house there were very few breakages. "

"He looked much worried last time I saw him. "

"Do look me up the next time you’re in London. "

"Next time you go shopping, throw in a few extra fruit and vegetables."

Thank you very much!

  • I'll let someone else comment on the grammar, but I would say time is countable since we are saying "first", "next", "last" etc. So "the" is the appropriate article. Maybe in an informal situation you could leave it out. I wouldn't. – user3169 Jun 28 '14 at 15:45
  • It's countable in the same way that waters, hairs, and furs are countable; by placing a numerative in front of it, you make it countable. And essentially any noun can have first, next and last placed in front of it, and the in front of that: the first dog, a last drink, the next jam. – jimsug Jun 29 '14 at 2:05
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Next and last can be determiners when they mean "time immediately after/before now," so when you use them with that meaning, you can omit the article the.

But they can both also serve as adjectives, so it's generally grammatical to include the article, too.

The same is not true of first. It's strictly adjectival, so you need to say, "the first time...."

  • For me, 'First time ...' is acceptable in very informal speech. – Sydney Jun 29 '14 at 2:44

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