Take the 2-minute tour ×
German Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of German wanting to discuss the finer points of the language and translation. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is there any special difference between "das letzte Mal" and "das vorige Mal " when they both mean "the last time"?

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

They both mean the same: "the last time", but – like in English –

das letzte Mal

can also mean: the very last time of something. For example:

In Hamburg besuchte ich meine Urgroßmutter das letzte Mal vor ihrem Tod.

share|improve this answer
    
"Das vorige mal" cannot be used in this case? I doubt if there's another word for "the last time" in English, is there? –  user508 Jul 17 '11 at 13:49
2  
@Gigili in this special case: no. Das vorige Mal implies that there is or that there will be another time. If the Urgroßmutter has died, (sadly) there will be no next time. –  splattne Jul 17 '11 at 13:53
    
Aha, great point. thanks. –  user508 Jul 17 '11 at 13:55
1  
@splattne: No. There is no such implication. "Das vorige Mal" might be in difference to "Das vorvorige Mal" or another, more early case. "Beim vorvorigen Mal, dass Deutschland Fußballweltmeister wurde, war Beckenbauer Kapitän der Mannschaft, beim vorigen Mal Trainer". There might be another titel, but it isn't implied. –  user unknown Jul 17 '11 at 21:46

My understanding is that "das Vorige Mal" means the PREVIOUS time. It could mean the "last" time in a sequence of earlier events.

Das Letzte Mal LITERALLY means the LAST time. If the "previous" time will actually be the "last" or "final" time, then the two are equivalent.

But suppose an event is supposed to happen five times, and the most recent one was the fourth. Then the FIFTH event would be das LETZTE mal, not Das "VORIGE" (or the fourth).

There is even a threat: The next time you do X will be the LAST time. (Meaning I'll kill, or incapacitate you if you do x.) Here, letzte seems more appropriate than vorige.

share|improve this answer

Duden lists both attributes, "vorige", and "letzte" as synonyms for something that recently happened.

However in modern German "letzte" is used far more often. The usage of "vorige" declines:

enter image description here

As there is no general difference in the meaning there may be variations in regional usage. "Vorige" may be considered slightly more distinguished.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.