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But we can bet that President Macron will now call for a period of apaisement – conciliation – after the tensions of the last weeks. BBC - French voting

The expression ".... the last weeks." caught my attention. Should it not have been "...the last week." as there can't more than one last week?

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    It means 'the last few weeks'. Commented Jul 8 at 9:20
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    What does the dictionary say? Merriam-Webster has an example with "her last hours".
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jul 8 at 9:35
  • "the tensions of the last weeks" is perfect English. The last weeks have seen an increase in crime in some neighborhoods.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 8 at 14:46
  • +1 A good question. Why does a question get negative marking? And bad questions (with poor English and wrong grammar) gets ++ Commented Jul 9 at 0:08

3 Answers 3

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"the last weeks" should be "the last few weeks"

But we can bet that President Macron will now call for a period of apaisement – conciliation – after the tensions of the last weeks. BBC - French voting.

This report is probably filed by a Frenchman as the word "apaisement" is used instead of "appeasement"..

The expression ".... the last weeks." caught my attention. Should it not have been "...the last week." as there can't more than one last week?

There can be more than one last week. But the phrase should be "last two weeks" or "last few weeks". It could also mean "the last week's tensions"..
So it is wrong to say "the last weeks" as how many weeks is not mentioned.

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    I don't think it's wrong. A native speaker understands it to mean 'the last [period of several] weeks'. It's common to speak of 'the last days of [an institution or a period of history]'. Commented Jul 8 at 10:24
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    @KateBunting Last' by itself is only used for one week/month/year: Last week I was doing it. For more than one, use 'in the last few weeks' or 'in recent weeks' or 'over the last few weeks'. These need perfect tense: Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about you. forum.wordreference.com/threads/…. Commented Jul 8 at 11:03
  • But this is the last weeks, not last week. Commented Jul 8 at 11:37
  • No, it's fine as is.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 8 at 14:46
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    I'm not sure it's wrong, but I agree that adding "couple/few/several" or specifying a number sounds more idiomatic to me. And not just for "weeks", but for "days/months/years", too. @Lambie Perhaps this is a dialectal difference? Your English dialect might not line up with James' or mine.
    – cmw
    Commented Jul 8 at 23:01
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in the last weeks can mean "in recent weeks".

Temperatures in the last weeks have been well above average for this time of year.

"in the last weeks" can also mean "in the final weeks" when the phrase is modified to say "... in the last weeks of {something with a known duration}"

Fetal position normally shifts in the last weeks of pregnancy.

In the last weeks of their term most presidents issue pardons.

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This is a funny one. As a native English speaker, "the tension of the last weeks" just sounds wrong to me. But I can't say that "last weeks" is wrong, because if someone said, "He spent his last weeks saying goodbye to family and friends", that would be perfectly okay.

As @JamesMatthai says, normally we say "last two weeks" or "last few weeks" or put some number or indication of how many weeks in there. We don't just say "the last weeks". But I'm hard pressed to say what the rule is. The safe thing to do is put a number, or some placeholder for a number like "few" or "several", in there.

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  • The last weeks have been difficult for them. We do just say "the last weeks", the last hours, the last years. whatever.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 8 at 14:47

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