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Sentence 1a: The Last time I took my pulse, it was a bit fast.

Sentence 1b: Last time I took my pulse, it was a bit fast.

Sentence 2a: He looked much worried the last time I saw him.

Sentence 2b: He looked much worried last time I saw him.

Can I omit "the" in "the last time" when it introduces a time clause? which sentences sound natural to you?

Thank you very much!

  • I won't say for sure, but I don't think so, at least in formal speech or writing. Though you might get away with a phrase like "Last time, we ...". – user3169 Aug 2 '14 at 16:47
  • Note: "He looked very worried..." not "much worried" – mc01 Aug 4 '14 at 18:50
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I should point out, 2a and 2b both would be more natural to me if you used "very" instead of "much" -- "much worried" is not typical.

I don't claim to be representative of all speakers, but the use of "last time" to replace "the last time" sounds okay in both of these examples. I think it's much better in the first one than the second though--while I might expect to see 2b in casual speech, it would seem like swallowing or skipping over the "the" rather than something I know I would write.

Some web examples of the usage include a Facebook group called "Last time I heard that, I laughed so hard I fell off my dinosaur!!!!!" (...for whatever that's worth as evidence) and the headline of this Yahoo! news article. I think that's enough to show that it's recognized as legitimate by the average US English speaker. It also seems to come up a lot in song lyrics. But it seems most natural to me if it's at the beginning of a sentence.

In conclusion: when in doubt, use "the", and you won't be wrong. But I think you're right that you can probably omit it in many cases.

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