Commonly Misused Words: Last

April 8, 2010: Issue 334

Last means most recent:
She has remodeled three houses in the last five years.

It also means final:
Colorful sticky notes fill the last page of the scrapbook.

Those dual meanings can cause confusion. Take this sentence:
I discussed that problem in my last Style on the Go.

Would that be Style on the Go from last week? Or the last Style on the Go I’ll ever write?

It’s best to use more specific synonyms:
She has remodeled three houses in the past five years.
Colorful sticky notes fill the final page of the scrapbook.
The contest winner from last week’s Style on the Go was Debra Steilen.
This is my final Style on the Go.

Yes, I mean it: This is my final Style on the Go. I’m moving to Meredith’s Kraft Integrated Marketing group next week, and the newsletter is going on hiatus. Thanks for all your questions, compliments, and challenges over the past five years. I plan to write a grammar and style e-newsletter on my own for fun and absolutely zero profit. If you’d like to receive it, please e-mail me or find my page on Facebook.

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