Trouble with meaning of Kanji?

This character 前, one of it’s meanings is the last. It’s a noun prefix. I was just hoping it didn’t only mean last like the one that just passed, like saying the last president. Can it also mean the last as in the very last one? Like the last cookie or the last dollar? Meaning like there’s no more after that one.

1 Like

No, “last” as in “final” is not included in the meaning of 前.

Isn’t this more the fault of English than Japanese?

Basically this character means “before” and the thing before the current thing is called the “last” thing in English in the sense that it was the last before now.

Any reason in particular?

1 Like

I’ve been writing it that way over and over again as study practice and I didn’t want to start over. But I kind of answered my own unnecessary question before you answered. If it were used that way, it’d probably be considered an adjective and not a noun

Justme being lazy

Yeah as @Leebo said, this is more a feature of the English language’s fuzziness. The meaning of 前 is “last” as in “previous” or “immediately preceding.”

For example,

I think I passed that last test.

This sentence has functionally the same meaning as

I think I passed the previous test.

In Japanese you’d use the kanji you just learned, and say something along the lines of


In this case, the kanji is a noun (used as an adjective with の) which is read まえ. When used as the prefix you mentioned, it has a functionally identical meaning (e.g. 前日 or ぜんじつ meaning “previous day”).

Whether in English or Japanese, we can notice that in none of these examples is there an indication that the previous thing was the final thing overall (in Japanese, you’d use the word 最後, or さいご to indicate that).

Good luck and hopefully you don’t need to reorient yourself too much to keep going! :slight_smile:

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.