'Lastly' or 'At Last'? What Is the Difference? | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 7 June 2024)

Lastly vs At Last: Understanding the Difference

Lastly and at last may seem similar, but they do not have the same meaning and are used in different contexts.

Lastly is commonly used to introduce the final point in a list or sequence of statements. It is similar to saying 'finally' when listing items in speech or writing:

To maintain your health, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and lastly, ensure you get enough sleep.

You need to finish your homework, clean your room, and lastly, walk the dog before dinner.

✅ (in an essay) Lastly, we must consider the environmental impacts of this decision.

✅ (in a presentation) Lastly, I'd like to thank everyone for their participation.

At last is used to express a sense of relief that something has happened after a long period of waiting or anticipation. It conveys the end of a wait or a struggle:

After years of study and hard work, she achieved her dream of becoming a doctor at last.

✅ They had been driving through the night, and at last, the city lights appeared on the horizon.

✅ At last, the exam results were published, and I could relax knowing I had passed.

✅ After hours of delay, our flight was called for boarding, and we sighed, 'At last!'

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Examples from the Media

Newman says she and her husband consider three points when deciding where to put their money: Do the goals of the charity align with their personal values? What is the actual percentage of money spent on administration vs. the beneficiaries? And lastly, what is the reach of the charity? —Toronto Star (2023)

Kate continued with the merry decorations as she showed off a more modest tree in a different room, which was also adorned with a garland along the ceiling. The star then shared a glimpse of some of the decorations on her table, including a silver sparkling cone-shaped tree. Lastly she shared a quick clip of a Mars Iwai Tradition Malted Japanese Whisky bottle, as she enjoyed a drink by the tree. —Daily Mail (2023)

This week, however, the NSW government announced the largest investment in the state's history to address domestic violence – a $484.3 million commitment to build 75 new refuges and refurbish existing ones, and a boost of 200 social housing dwellings. It will also cover a trial in two districts to provide dedicated support for children and young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. These reforms, at last, have the potential to save lives. The Sydney Morning Herald (2021)

At the ceremony, the honorees wore caps and gowns and speakers used the phrases that come when too much time has passed: "It's about time." "Better late than never." "At last." —The Washington Post (2023)


Choose the correct option to complete each sentence.

1. The long-awaited rain began to fall, quenching the parched earth lastly/at last.

2. He searched all day for his lost ring, and lastly/at last, he found it under the couch.

3. Our trip will take us through Berlin, Prague, and Budapest. Lastly/At last, we will spend a couple of days in Vienna.

4. Please fill out your personal details, answer the survey questions, and lastly/at last, sign at the bottom of the form.

5. The stranded hikers were rescued and lastly/at last returned to safety after three days in the wilderness.

6. We have added salt, pepper, and oregano to the sauce; lastly/at last, sprinkle in some basil for a fresh aroma.

7. Firstly, we will analyse the data; secondly, we will draft the report; and lastly/at last, we will present our findings.

8. The negotiations were long and arduous, but lastly/at last, a peace treaty was signed.

9. Lastly/At last, after numerous attempts, he perfected the recipe for his grandmother's famous pie.

10. He explained the rules, demonstrated the techniques, and lastly/at last, supervised as we practised the drills.

Answer Key

1. at last    2. at last    3. Lastly    4. lastly    5. at last    6. lastly    7. lastly    8. at last    9. At last    10. lastly

Recommended Further Reading

'At the End' or 'In the End'?
'At the Beginning' or 'In the Beginning'?

Real-World Examples of Misuse

1. We usually say write in the box rather than write into the box.
2. When but is used as a coordinating conjunction to connect two independent clauses, a comma is needed before it.
3. Use the indefinite article a when no specific plate has been previously mentioned.
4. At last typically implies a sense of relief after a long wait or a series of events. In contrast, finally or lastly are more commonly used to introduce the last point in a list or sequence, especially in the context of instructions or procedural steps.
5. Add a little honey on top has been changed to drizzle a little honey over the top to be more descriptive and to align with cooking terminology. Similarly, and eat has been changed to and enjoy as it is a more inviting and customary way to conclude a recipe.
6. While the phrase add some cherries onto the ice cream is understandable, it is more natural to say top the ice cream with some cherries when giving serving instructions.
(Source: St. Joseph's Primary School)
(Also by the Same School: 1/2/3/4/5)

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