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Should 'the last time' always be followed by past simple and in the last hundred years by present perfect?

Eg., The last time I went to South America, I visited Brazil and Peru. I spent two weeks in the Amazon, hiked for a week near Machu Picchu, and flew over the Nazca Lines.

Eg.,In the last hundred years, traveling has become much easier and very comfortable.

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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

“The last time” is a completed past, whereas “over the last 100 years” represents a period that runs right up to the present moment.

So while last year I went to the store, but this week I have gone to the store. Same thing.

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The tenses (past simple / present perfect) are correct in the context in which you use them above. As to your question: "Should the last time always be followed by past simple and in the last hundred years by present perfect?", the best answer is that they usually are, but there are contexts in which they are not:

  • This may be the last time that we have heard her sing. (present perfect)

  • In the last hundred years of the first millenium most people lived in mud huts. (past simple)

With all due respect to my fellow answerers, I think you would be better off investing in a good pedagogial grammar, such as Swan's Practical English Usage, or engaging an ESL teacher. The answers to your numerous open questions, including mine, are probably more likely to lead to confusion than to enlightenment.

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Thank you very much, Shoe. That book must be useful. –  Monica May 16 '12 at 13:27
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