In our last lesson, we talked about temporal adverbs for events that have occurred in the recent past or "just now." This week, let's take a look at one of those adverbs that might cause you problems. But first, a little background: the German adjective letzt is usually translated as the English adjective "last, " as in das letzte Mal ("the last time") or in letzter Minute ("at the last minute"). However, the adverb letztens, which might easily be mistaken for "lastly," in fact means "recently," — quite a different meaning indeed. Here are a some examples of letztens from Yabla:
Ich war letztens mal bei Rammstein.
I was recently at Rammstein.
Caption 32, rheinmain Szene: Unheilig - „Der Graf“
Wir haben letztens auf einer Veranstaltung gespielt, wo jede Band einen Song covern musste.
We recently played at an event where every band had to cover a song.
Caption 15, Sons of Sounds: Interview
You can see how some misunderstandings might arise if you misunderstand letztens to mean "last of all" or something similar. But what German words can you use if you actually want to say "lastly," "in the end," or "ultimately?" The easiest German word to remember for native English speakers is probably letztlich:
Letztlich ist so ein Gepard also auch nur ein Mensch.
Lastly, such a cheetah is also just like a human.
Caption 14, Für Tierfreunde: Geparden
Letztlich scheitert der Gastgeber schon im Viertelfinale.
In the end, the host team already lost in the quarter finals.
Caption 33, Frauenfußball: 11 Freundinnen
Habe ich letztlich besser gemacht gesehen.
I have ultimately seen it done better.
Caption 99, Free Birds: Interview mit Nora Tschirner & Rick Kavanian
The adverb schließlich can have a similar meaning:
Schließlich kamen sie an ein großes Wasser.
Finally they came to a great body of water.
Caption 27, Piggeldy und Frederick: Der Himmel
As can the adverb zuletzt:
Mein Wahlspruch heißt: „Die Dummheit stirbt zuletzt“.
My campaign slogan is: "Stupidity is last to die."
Caption 43, Tom Gerhardt: Die Superbullen
It's important to remember that letztlich, which is structurally very close to "lastly," also means just that, whereas letztens means "recently." Go to Yabla German and find different examples of letztens, letztlich, schließlich, and zuletzt to learn the different ways in which these words are used by native German speakers in a real-world context.