Glasgow based duo Happy Meals have spent the last year since the release of their debut Apéro touring the globe, experimenting with new sounds and forms, and are now ready to introduce Fruit Juice.

The use of present perfect with the last year seems strange, last year is past it is finished and have spent the action begins in the past and continues up to now. Maybe the present perfect is used because their new release has just come out or will come out soon. Can somebody explain me why?

2 Answers 2


The phrase "last year" and "the last year" do not have the same meaning.

Last year refers to the year whose number is one previous (2016->2015).

The last year refers to the twelve-month period stretching backwards from the current month.

So the last year touches upon (and includes) the present. That's why the present perfect is used there.

When did that song air?
--It aired last hour.

Have I missed much of the movie?
--Yes, it's been on for the last half-hour.

When did you visit her?
--I drove up to Boston to see her last week.

How long have you been coming to this coffee shop?
--I've been having coffee here daily for the last week.

When was the earthquake?
-- It was early last year.

What do these spikes on the chart show?
--They show that there have been several after-shocks in the last year.


“The last year” is the time from 365 days¹ ago to now. As TRomano explains, this is different from “last year”, which is 2015. So an action that happened over “the last year” is either still ongoing or has just finished.

In the first part of the sentence, both the present perfect and the simple past are possible:

Happy Meals have spent the last year touring the globe.
Happy Meals spent the last year touring the globe.

The first variant implies that they're still touring the globe, or maybe they've just come home but there is still a sense of immediacy, the fact that they're touring is still current or recent. The second variant implies that the touring is over, they are now back home.

In the sentence you quote, the present perfect is used because the sentence is dealing with a consequence of the touring. The band have been touring and they have been experimenting with sound and these experiments have helped them produce their new album.

On the other hand, the simple past would be used to indicate that the action is finished, for example

Happy Meals spent the last year touring the globe, but now they are starting a series of concerts in their home town.

¹ or 366 days, or approximately one year.

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