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Posted: Sunday, May 2, 2021 1:01:13 AM

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Joined: 2/26/2021
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At least, at the very last, at the last, or at very last.
Which ones are correct?
Posted: Sunday, May 2, 2021 9:23:53 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 35,085
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hi Penz.

It depends on your sentence. I assume that the first one is "at last", not "at least".

At last, This is an adverbial statement - it means that something has been expected or wanted, and has now happened. It's often an exclamation. It means the same as the word "finally".
At last, you've arrived. I've been expecting you for the last five days!
My rose bush has flowers at last!
He has, at last, given me the money he owed me.

at the very last, This is not really a phrase in itself. It's used with a noun (often a unit of time) to make an adverbial phrase meaning "just in time", "just before it was/is too late".
At the very last moment, she said "I'll buy it."
He waited and waited, and at the very last moment jumped out of the car.
You always do things at the very last minute. Try to be on early so we don't have to rush.

at the last,
This is the same as "at the very last", but not so "strong".
He did it at the last second - just before the bomb went off.
Don't do things at the last minute. Plan ahead a little.

at very last. This is rarely used. In a search of Google Books, from 1800 to 2019, it was hardly found. It can be used as an intensifier of "at last". Or it can be used with an uncountable noun, the same way "at the very last" is used.
At last - at very last - a useful update from Microsoft!
At last light, the birds flew off in a flurry of wings.
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