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Without ""the""

A) I think we met around half past five last time.
B) It was around half past five the last time we met.

I get to second guess myself whenever there is no need for saying "THE"- last/best/most.

1) Is there a rule of thumb for this( = when you say just "last/best/most" without "the"?
F.Y.I, I got the basics down( those too obvious cases I need "the" )

2) Can you tell me the examples above (A,B) are correct?

This has been on my mind for the longest time, I feel like I should know this thing since it is just "the" - one simple word. But I think it is a major obstacle that has been holding me back, I'd really appreciate your help. Thank you.

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language

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    Samomoi,

    "The last time" has two possible meanings. In contexts where it might cause confusion, it would be better to use the variation without "the" when you mean "the most recent".

    The adjective "last" meaning the most recent time:
    It was around half past five the last time we met.
    The last time we met was at a party.

    The adjective "last" meaning coming after all others in time:
    It was around half past five the (very) last time we met. (the last time ever)
    This is unfortunately the last time we will meet. My wife has found out about us!
    The last time we ever met was at a party.
    ------------------

    "Last time" has only one meaning.

    The most recent time
    I think we met around half past five last time.
    We met last time at a party.


    This is true of many other time expression as well, for example, last week, last month, last evening, etc.

    1. You can usually use "the" with superlative degree. Although there are cases where "the" is omitted, I cannot give you a rule for this.
    2. Both sentences are correct. Note that you could also say A) I think we met around half past five the last time.

     

    Definite Article: the
    The definite article is used before singular and plural nouns when the noun is specific or particular. The signals that the noun is definite, that it refers to a particular member of a group. For example:

    "The dog that bit me ran away." Here, we're talking about a specific dog, the dog that bit me.

    "I was happy to see the policeman who saved my cat!" Here, we're talking about a particular policeman. Even if we don't know the policeman's name, it's still a particular policeman because it is the one who saved the cat.

    "I saw the elephant at the zoo." Here, we're talking about a specific noun. Probably there is only one elephant at the zoo.

    Count and Noncount Nouns
    The can be used with noncount nouns, or the article can be omitted entirely.

    •"I love to sail over the water" (some specific body of water) or "I love to sail over water" (any water).
    •"He spilled the milk all over the floor" (some specific milk, perhaps the milk you bought earlier that day) or "He spilled milk all over the floor" (any milk).

     

    I tried a few examples and I can't come up with good rules for when to use "the" in these types of sentences. These are my opinions, they may be different for some people.

    I think we met around half past five (the) last time. ("the" optional)
    It was around half past five (the) last time we met. (optional)

    I think we met around half past five the first time. ("the" required)

    I think we met around half past five the previous time. ("the" required)
    It was around half past five the previous time we met. (required)

    We should meet around half past five (the) next time.

    I think we met around half past five last week. ("the" not used. Assuming more meetings to come)

    I think we met around half past five the last week. (Assuming that was the final meeting)

    We should meet around half past five the first week. ("the" required. Upcoming meeting)

    last, next etc.
    when they are followed by a time. the "time" have already been limited.
    so needn't use "the" limited it again.
    for example:
    i met her last night.
    I'll meet you tomorrow morning.
    the morning I met her was on Monday.

    I think that A and B are both find with "the," and also sound fine without "the." Adding "the" would perhaps make it sound a little more formal but it's really not a big difference.

    A lot of the "rules" about articles are not very helpful because there are so many exceptions. I think this is one of those cases where there isn't really a rule to analyze or understand -- it's just habit or custom.

    Of course, most of the basic rules about articles are correct and well worth understanding and learning, but I think you already know those.

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