Dernier = final / previous (adjectives that change meaning according to position)

Look at these examples:

La semaine dernière, je suis allée skier.
Last week, I went skiing.

Pendant la dernière semaine de mes exams, je suis tombé malade.
During the final week of my exams, I got sick.

Les derniers jours de l'année sont toujours plus courts.
The last days of the year are always shorter.

Les jours derniers, j'étais un peu malade.
These last days, I was a bit ill.

Dernier/Dernière means last/previous when it comes after the noun, but last (ever)/final if it comes before the noun.

Note that as an adjective, dernier agrees in gender and number with the noun it refers to.


Special case of la fois dernière / la dernière fois = (the) last time

To express last time  (previous)

When last time is used on its own, you can use either la fois dernière or la dernière fois indifferently in French,
BUT
When last time is followed by a clause (last time I saw you), you can only use la dernière fois, and never la fois dernière.

Tu étais encore avec Stéphane la fois dernière.
You were still with Stéphane last time.

Tu étais encore avec Stéphane la dernière fois.
You were still with Stéphane last time.

Tu étais encore avec Stéphane la dernière fois que je t'ai vue.
You were still with Stéphane last time I saw you.


To express the last time  (final)

You always use la dernière fois .

C'est la dernière fois que je t'amène avec moi !
This is the last time I take you with me!

Prends-moi sur tes épaules ! -D'accord, mais c'est la dernière fois.
Take me on your shoulders! -OK, but this is the last time.

 

See also: 

Ancien = former / old (adjectives that change meaning according to position) 

Cher= dear / expensive (adjectives that change meaning according to position) 

Certain = specific / sure (adjectives that change meaning according to position) 

Propre = own / clean (adjectives that change meaning according to position)

Vrai = real / true (adjectives that change meaning according to position)  

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Les derniers jours de l'année sont toujours plus courts.
The last days of the year are always shorter.


Prends-moi sur tes épaules ! -D'accord, mais c'est la dernière fois.
Take me on your shoulders! -OK, but this is the last time.


Pendant la dernière semaine de mes exams, je suis tombé malade.
During the final week of my exams, I got sick.


Tu étais encore avec Stéphane la dernière fois que je t'ai vue.
You were still with Stéphane last time I saw you.


La semaine dernière, je suis allée skier.
Last week, I went skiing.


Tu étais encore avec Stéphane la dernière fois.
You were still with Stéphane last time.


Les jours derniers, j'étais un peu malade.
These last days, I was a bit ill.


Tu étais encore avec Stéphane la fois dernière.
You were still with Stéphane last time.


C'est la dernière fois que je t'amène avec moi !
This is the last time I take you with me!


Q&A Forum 10 questions, 25 answers

How would you say .........

How would you say  " in my last summer vacations i.........."


Thank you!

Asked 2 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Rakhim,

You could also say -

"Pendant mes vacances de l'été dernier ...."

I would say, "Lors de mes dernières vacances d'été..."

How would you say .........

How would you say  " in my last summer vacations i.........."


Thank you!

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So... isn't it just safe to ALWAYS say "La dernière fois"???

Asked 2 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Francesca,

Technically speaking you would put 'dernier' before the noun when it is part of a series -

Venez chez nous le dernier week-end de juillet Come to us on the last week-end in July

Le dernier jour de la semaine est le dimanche The last day of the week is Sunday

But if it is placed after the noun, it means the one just gone -

Le week-end dernier, nous sommes allés à Paris = Last week-end, we went to Paris

Dimanche dernier nous avons fait une belle promenade en forêt Last Sunday, we had a lovely walk in the woods

Hope this helps!

Or I should say... Shouldn't it be safe... but like Jennifer I don't understand why this question is "la fois dernière  instead???? 

Other people might be using la fois dernière and it's always good to understand the bigger picture, I guess. I've heard it used when someone wanted to stress particularly the fact that she was referring to the last of a sequence of instances.

So... isn't it just safe to ALWAYS say "La dernière fois"???

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a little confusing?

La ________ qu'il est venu, il n'a pas été sage.Last time he came, he didn't behave himself.How could we know if it was his final time, or just the last time he visited?dernière foisfois dernière
Asked 4 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Jennifer,

I would say -

La dernière fois qu'il est venu, il n'a pas été sage.

but you could say -

Il n'a pas été sage, la fois dernière.

I think having seen several similar questions on dernier and prochain that theory and practice are sometimes at odds! 

CécileKwiziq language super star

HI Jennifer,

You don’t unless you have the context...

Ah! Well then Cécile, without the context, we can't be marked incorrectly. 

thank you for your response...

I think that "Last time" can only mean the last time he visited. If it was the final time you would have to say "The last time he came". That would be ambiguous because it could also mean the most recent time, but I don't think "Last time" is ambiguous.

you are right, but it had indeed said 'La  - dernière fois/fois dernière?' - hence my confusion! 

Never mind, it's not that important - but I did wonder why I was incorrect...

a little confusing?

La ________ qu'il est venu, il n'a pas été sage.Last time he came, he didn't behave himself.How could we know if it was his final time, or just the last time he visited?dernière foisfois dernière

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MaxC1

la fois dernière v. la dernière fois

Comme vous, le français n'est pas ma langue maternelle, mai enfin je le parle chaque jour. Alors, je n'ai jamais entendu dire "la fois dernière". En tout cas, je l'ai googlé et trouvé l'expression tel quel dans les actualités. Mais jamais dans le language quotidiens. Pour moi, ça grince!
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Bonjour Max,

"La fois dernière" a peut-être perdu de sa popularité mais je peux vous assurer que vous entendrez cette expression utilisée dans le langage courant car les français aiment la variété dans leur discours...

MaxC1
D’accord
MaxC1
Et c’est en tout cas « le judgment dernier » selon le Robert qui suggère peut-être qu’il peut en être plus qu’un! 

la fois dernière v. la dernière fois

Comme vous, le français n'est pas ma langue maternelle, mai enfin je le parle chaque jour. Alors, je n'ai jamais entendu dire "la fois dernière". En tout cas, je l'ai googlé et trouvé l'expression tel quel dans les actualités. Mais jamais dans le language quotidiens. Pour moi, ça grince!

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(question continued) end with: ... je t'ai vu."? N'est pas?

Asked 1 year ago

Hi Theresa-Marie,

... la dernière fois que je t'ai vu(e). -- The last time I saw you.

Her the direct object (te) comes before the participle (vu, vue). In this case the participle needs to match the direct object in gender and number. Therefore, if the speaker is addressing a female, i.e., "te" refers to a female, the participle needs to be vue.

Same sentence, different direct object:

...la dernière fois que je les ai vus. -- The last time I saw them.

"Les" is masculine (or mixed gender) plural, which makes vu becume vus.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

(question continued) end with: ... je t'ai vu."? N'est pas?

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In your example: "Tu étais encore avec Stéphane la dernière fois que je t'ai vue." isn't the past participle of voir 'vu'? If so, the sentence should

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Theresa- Marie,

As we don't know who the t' refers to it could be either.

Should probably say 'vu(e)'. Will let Aurélie know...

AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Bonjour Theresa-Marie !

Yes indeed, "vue" implies that the person addressed here (tu) is a woman.

Have a look at our related lesson on agreement with "avoir":

https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/special-cases-when-the-past-participle-agrees-in-number-and-gender-when-used-with-avoir-in-le-passe-compose-conversational-past

Bonne journée !

In your example: "Tu étais encore avec Stéphane la dernière fois que je t'ai vue." isn't the past participle of voir 'vu'? If so, the sentence should

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Dernière fois que

Un quizz demande traduire "C'était la dernière fois que tu m'as dit que tu m'aimais." Il y a deux réponses: 1. ... last time you told me you loved me. 2. ... last time THAT you told me you loved me. To me, those 2 responses have the same meaning in English. The 'that' adds nothing, but neither is it incorrect. Specifically, neither answer disambiguates between "the last (most recent) time" and"the last (ever) time. The word 'that' in English is often just a filler and does not convey additional meaning. Je ne comprends bien encore.
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

Hi Michael,

I believe you are focusing on the wrong word here. The issue is not about "that" but about whether it is "the last time" (as in last week) or "the last time" (as in the final and last time).

"C'était la dernière fois que tu m'as dit que tu m'aimais." -- That was the last time you told me that you loved me. (There won't be a next time.)

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

I don't see any reason to assume "C'était la dernière fois que tu m'as dit que tu m'aimais." means there won't be a next time.  How would the sentence have been written to indicate the previous time instead of the final time ?

For me both the English phrases could be read either way and there is no context to indicate whether it is the final time or the previous time.

I don't know if the French sentence is ambiguous or not...so it would help to see two phrases, one for the final and one for the previous....to see how they would both be expressed in French.

Dernière fois que

Un quizz demande traduire "C'était la dernière fois que tu m'as dit que tu m'aimais." Il y a deux réponses: 1. ... last time you told me you loved me. 2. ... last time THAT you told me you loved me. To me, those 2 responses have the same meaning in English. The 'that' adds nothing, but neither is it incorrect. Specifically, neither answer disambiguates between "the last (most recent) time" and"the last (ever) time. The word 'that' in English is often just a filler and does not convey additional meaning. Je ne comprends bien encore.

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Dernière fois

I got this wrong: "C'était la dernière fois que tu m'as dit que tu m'aimais." means: Mauvais: It was last time that you told me you loved me. Correcte: It was the last time you told me you loved me Was it the last of several times and in that last time 'tu m'a dit que tu m'aimais.' Or... Was it the last time (of several times 'tu m'a dit que tu m'aimais') ? The former implies something like 'in our last meeting you told me you loved me.' The latter implies the final time you told me you love me (and you have not since) Me me suis perplexe.
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Michael,

The meaning will depend on the context .

If you say to someone:

"C'est la dernière fois que tu me parles comme ça" , it will sound like an ultimatum, meaning the final time.

Compared with :

"Tu m'as dit ça la dernière fois qu'on s'est vus." "You told me that the last time we met."

Without more context I can't help you with the example you cite.

 

According to a native French speaker "la fois dernière" sounds stilted and is hardly ever used. She would use "la dernière fois" to express both meanings: the last time ever, as well as the last time in an ongoing succession. -- Chris (not a native speaker).

Dernière fois

I got this wrong: "C'était la dernière fois que tu m'as dit que tu m'aimais." means: Mauvais: It was last time that you told me you loved me. Correcte: It was the last time you told me you loved me Was it the last of several times and in that last time 'tu m'a dit que tu m'aimais.' Or... Was it the last time (of several times 'tu m'a dit que tu m'aimais') ? The former implies something like 'in our last meeting you told me you loved me.' The latter implies the final time you told me you love me (and you have not since) Me me suis perplexe.

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So this is the most confusing ever! Is it this:

Asked 2 years ago
I am no good with buttons, this is the second question I have pressed too soon! Is it 1/ absolutely everything has "dernier" going after, EXCEPT 2/ if meaning a previous something, unless that previous something is a previous "fois"..

So this is the most confusing ever! Is it this:

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So "la fois dernière" and "la dernière fois" are interchangeable

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer
Bonjour Kenneth !

They are interchangeable when used on their own (meaning without a "que" clause) and only to mean "last time".
To express "the last time" (i.e. no more time after this), you can only use "la dernière fois".

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne Année !
The problem with this is in the English answers -- they don't make the necessary distinction between whether it's the FINAL time or the most RECENT time. "C'était la dernière fois que tu m'as dit que tu m'aimais." The answer choices are: It was last time that you told me you loved me. It was the last time you told me you loved me. In English, these sentences have the same meaning. So the quiz should be rewritten to provide an answer that it's the FINAL time. As is, there is no distinction between the two sentences.
TomC1

Jane,

Je suis tout au fait d'accord.

The lesson says so but the grading isn’t consistent with the lesson

So "la fois dernière" and "la dernière fois" are interchangeable

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