Suppose you don't want the last argument. Instead, you want to insert the first, second, or third argument of a previous command.
Alt + 1 + dot inserts the first argument of the last command. To key it in properly, hold the alt key, press the 1 key, and then the dot (".") key.
Similarly, alt + 2 + dot inserts the second command argument.
For example, you just executed this command.
$ ls -l /home/peter/somefile.txt secondfile.txt
-rw-r--r-- 1 peter peter 8115 2007-12-19 21:03 somefile.txt
If you now type in cat and then alt + 2 + dot, it will insert the second argument from the last command (-l is the first).
$ cat /home/peter/somefile.txt
You can repeat the key sequence, and this will go back 1 command at a time, and insert the specified argument of that command.
If you want just the command itself, not an argument, type in alt + 0 + dot .
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