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I am searching for a way to ask a question like "When did you last see her?" or "When did you last do the laundry?, or also "When did we last meet?" Basically, how do you construct a question with this content:

"When was the most recent time when X happened?"

And even less specific: How to talk about the most recent point in time in general.

"Last time you ate lunch, did you eat a salad?"
"When was your last holiday?"
"Who was your last boyfriend?"

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Simply asking for translation is not appropriate here (please use translation services for that). Can you make the question more specific? If not, I will vote to close it. See also meta discussion 1 and meta discussion 2. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jun 14 '11 at 1:45
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Stackoverflow also has a huge amount of debug problems, which is about the equivalent. Also, I do not care in the slightest which verb is used. I just gave three examples which I hoped might end up different. –  Kdansky Jun 14 '11 at 7:32
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I think questions like these are (or, if not, should be) in the scope of the project when they are about grammatical constructions. If the asker just wants a translation of a complete sentence and has no apparent desire to actually learn and understand the translation, that would be outside the scope of the project, but this is about a specific construction that could be generalized to a large number of possible sentences. –  Kef Schecter Jun 14 '11 at 8:49
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“Stackoverflow also has a huge amount of debug problems, which is about the equivalent.” So what? I voted to close. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jun 14 '11 at 11:45

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I don't think "last" can be translated literally in most situations, or at least shouldn't. "Last" will be very much understood from context in most cases. I'd come up with:

"When did we last meet?"

この前会ったのはいつ? Kono mae atta no wa itsu?

"When did you last see her?"

彼女を見たのはいつだった? Kanojo o mita no wa itsu datta?

"When did you last do the laundry?"

洗濯したのはいつだった? Sentakushita no wa itsu datta?
いつ洗濯したんですか? Itsu sentakushitan desu ka?

この前 is a common way to say "last time", but it's usually only used if you find yourself in exactly the same situation as before and want to refer to the last time this happened. You can't usually apply it if you're asking another person when he last did something if you had no part in that "last time".

Usually the best way is to simply phrase the question in past tense, which very much implies that you're asking for the last time something happened. If you want to very explicitly say "most recently", 一番最近 ichiban saikin should do.

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Probably too late to say this but OP lost by choosing this as the best answer. Lost by a landslide, I would say. By far the most natural and often-used phrase has been given by Rolf. –  非回答者 Nov 4 '13 at 23:48

"When did you last see her?"
最後に彼女を見たのはいつ(ですか)?

"When did you last do the laundry?"
最後に洗濯をしたのはいつ(ですか)?

"When did we last meet?"
最後に会ったのはいつ(ですか)?

I think you can easily use 最後に to say "last" in this context.

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I don't think 最後 is really appropriate. It's implies (or at least tends to) that you're never going to do the laundry/see her again. –  deceze Jun 14 '11 at 1:25
    
Actually, I also think this is not the meaning I am looking for. –  Kdansky Jun 14 '11 at 7:37
    
@deceze btw what do you think about this: 彼女を最後見たのはいつだった? –  Pacerier Jun 24 '11 at 11:05
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@Pacerier I'd read this as "The last time you saw her was when?", as in "The event when you two parted never to see each other again happened when?" –  deceze Jun 24 '11 at 11:16
    
@deceze oic i sorta get it thx –  Pacerier Jun 24 '11 at 11:33

This depends on the semantics that are unfortunately not given by the English language.

If by "last", you mean "the final time" ("When did you see her for the final time?"), then 最後に is used as @Rolf said.

But if "last" means "the most recent", I think 最近 is a better choice to use. Actually, they may both work, but I'm confident that 最近 works, but I have no confidence as to whether or not 最後に fits this context.

  • 最近いつメアリーに会いましたか? → When did you last see Mary?
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I think that 最後に can be also used to mean “the most recently” without implying that it will never happen in the future, but I am not confident of this at all. Even though I am a native speaker of Japanese, I may be confusing Japanese expressions with English expressions. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jun 14 '11 at 0:33
    
what about the sentences here? eow.alc.co.jp/search?q=when+was+the+last+time&ref=sa are they reliable? –  Rodrigo Pará Nov 3 '13 at 7:04
    
I don't think that "When did you last see her?" is ambiguous in English. It unambiguously means "most recent." The other meaning is expressed as "When did you see her for the last time?" Note that in the first sentence, last is behaving as an adverb, and in the second, as an adjective. There might be an ambiguous construction, but I can't think of it off-hand. –  AHelps Nov 5 '13 at 3:11

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