"last week" vs. "a week ago"


I have to transfer this sentence from reported speech into direct speech:

Tom had had a car accident the week before and he had been ill since then.

Is there a difference in meaning between these two sentences?

  1. Tom: "I had a car accident last week and I have been ill since then."
  2. Tom: "I had a car accident a week ago and I have been ill since then."

Are both sentences correct. Or can " a week ago" only be used in end position and may not be followed by a secend sentence connected with and?


Posted 2016-10-06T07:44:17.370


They mean more or less the same thing. A week ago means 7 days ago (or thereabouts). Last week means last calendar week. If it is Sunday, the day before (Saturday) is part of last week. – Mick – 2016-10-06T07:51:46.267

Thanks for your answer!

But I have a further question: What does the week before in the sentence in indirect speech mean exactly? – None – 2016-10-06T08:26:43.290

Beyond my pay grade, I'm afraid. You need an expert. – Mick – 2016-10-06T08:30:31.877

@Chris - Ask a separate question as a separate question, i.e. click "Ask a Question" again. I've removed your "further question" from this one. – AndyT – 2016-10-06T11:37:36.007



My interpretation of each expression in the absence of any further elaboration would be as follows. Let's suppose today is Thursday.

Last week, I would take to mean, sometime between Monday and Friday of the previous week. If it had happened at the weekend, I would expect the speaker to say at the weekend, or the weekend before last. Though that might not always be the case.

A week ago, would suggest to me, since today is Thursday, that it happened roughly in the range Wednesday to Friday of the previous week.

But a lot of this could depend on the context of the conversation, to whom the person was speaking etc. Were it their insurance company's claims department it could perhaps be interpreted more literally than if it was a casual conversation to an acquaintance in a pub.


Posted 2016-10-06T07:44:17.370

Reputation: 1 773


Tom had had a car accident the week before and he had been ill since then.

This sentence tells us that straight after a car accident Tom became ill and that he was still ill about seven days later.

We know the sequence of these events. We do not know when they occurred (last month, last year, last century). In the absence of further contextual information, therefore, neither last week nor a week ago can be used. Instead -

Tom: "I had a car accident and I have been ill for about a week".


Posted 2016-10-06T07:44:17.370

Reputation: 203