The above sentence I encountered during Article usage practice.I answered that there should be a the before last summer but my teacher pointed that the should be placed before norther areas.The teacher didn't give me a satisfactory explanation.Shouldn't it be "We visited northern areas of our country the last summer." as use of the before directions or geographical regions is prohibited.

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    Hello, Abdul. 'use of the before directions or geographical regions is prohibited' is far from the truth. 'We visited the Northwest / the Sahara / the Trossachs last year.' I wouldn't say that the article is mandatory before 'northern areas' in your example, but it sounds far more natural. But with specified times using 'last', 'this', or 'next', the inclusion of 'the' is incorrect. We went there last summer / last Thursday / last year / last month / last May. We will be going there this year / this June / this Thursday. We will be going there next month / next winter / next Saturday. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 24 '18 at 5:25
  • @WS2 Actually Edwin said that it was not mandatory, but sounded more natural. – Kate Bunting Feb 24 '18 at 9:43
  • @KateBunting I'll delete that. What I meant was that in some circumstances it sounds more natural without the article e.g. "We visited northern parts last year, let's go to Wales this time". Use of the definite article entirely depends on whether one is being "definite". – WS2 Feb 24 '18 at 10:41

There is potentially a slight difference in meaning between " northern areas" and " the northern areas". The former can mean some of them, the latter tends to mean all of them. "We visited northern areas of England but did not go to the Lake District" would, I think sound odd if "the" had been inserted.

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