I am curious as well as confused to the existence of both 去 and 先.

Both these kanjis are used to mean past time, like 去年, 先月 etc. What I wonder is why different kanjis are used in case of month and year to mean 'last year' or 'last month'. Is there some historical reason behind the existence of these two different kanji for the same meaning? I have not yet seen such a case in my Japanese studies yet.

  • I apologise in advance if I am asking this question again, if someone has asked it before. I didn't find this question on my search of this website, so I am making a new question Mar 25, 2022 at 10:34
  • 1
    Wait until you find 昨年
    – oldergod
    Mar 25, 2022 at 11:21
  • 1
    There is also 旧年.
    – aguijonazo
    Mar 25, 2022 at 13:57

1 Answer 1


Most of Japanese people wonder the same thing but seems no one knows the answer. But I found this blog most plausible. It says 昨 means just one previous time (like last month or last year) and 先 means even before than 昨 (like a few days ago: 先日).

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