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if my friend asks me on today 3.2.2017 this question:

What have you bought in the last two weeks? What should I say to him?

(I bought a car weeks ago on Tuesday.)

Would it be okay to say: I bought a new car? Or it would be wrong because in the last two weeks means last 14 days which is NOT including Monday because today is Friday and 2 weeks back from Friday would be Friday again.

So should I count it this precisely or the phrase: What have you bought in the last two weeks means just or is equal to this: What have you bought since last two weeks (since the beginning of the week before last week).

So it would be absolutely okay to mention all the things I bought for this period?

since 20.1.2017 until 3.2.2017?

  • last question to just confirm if it is correct.

So basically phrase: What happened in the last weeks? Would include all the events from last calendar week + the 4 days from current week before today?

Is this the way people understand it? Or? Because if someone asks me: How many games did you buy in/for the last two weeks. it would be actually super hard for me to tell him all the games precisely in 14 days. It would be easier for me to just think of the week that was two weeks ago and mention all my purchases since then until now though it could have been more than 14 days (e.g. 18 days and so)

Thanks for your help. These day expressions are driving me nuts and I feel depressed because I feel like I am the only one not knowing how to interpretate them.

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    Most of the time, "in the last two weeks" means roughly in the last two weeks, and I wouldn't care if you used a 13-, 14-, or 15-day timeframe. The one exception might be in legal issues, such as when a warrantee might expire. But if my friend asks me what I've bought in the last two weeks, the last thing I'm going to worry about is whether or not my car purchase exceeds the stated timeframe by a matter of hours. Instead, I'm going to invite him for a ride in my new car! – J.R. Feb 3 '17 at 19:25
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I thought you asked this question a few days ago. I must have premonitions!

This depends on the rule of thumb/ the way they do it where you are from.

I say February 3, 2017 or 02/03/17, but in many places it is correct to say 03/02/2017. So I cannot answer for where you are.

For me, I'd ask if I needed to be specific. I would not count today whether I am looking forward or back, unless it was early in the day and I had been told I have 2 days to do the job. I'd ask to be certain. "Boss, do you mean tomorrow at 4:pm or the day after that?" If I said to you, "Let's have lunch in two days." (weird but it's an example) I'd not be surprised if you asked me if I meant Saturday or Sunday.

Looking back: "What did you buy in the last two weeks?" To a friend, I'd assume it is a casual question. "I bought a car." (Even if that was 16-20 days ago.) If it was specific -- there's a reason the person needs accuracy, I'd start two weeks ago. Today is Friday here, so my answer would start two weeks ago Thursday and end yesterday/Thursday. If there was doubt, I might add I bought a car this morning, or on February 18th.

If it was a question about a fiscal/financial report, then I'd be specific to the reporting dates requested.

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    I also thought we just recently had a very similar question, so it's not just you. – stangdon Feb 3 '17 at 18:23
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The question needs context. You need to ask your friend for more clarification. Relative dates can be quite confusing. If your friend wanted to be more precise in his question, he could add "from today".

"Last two weeks from today" means the last 14 days. Whereas "The last two weeks" could have many meanings depending on context.

Consider this scenario. Today is Friday, February the 3rd. I ask my friend "What are you doing this Sunday?" which would imply the next Sunday on the calendar (Feb 5). Or I could ask "What are you doing next Sunday", which could imply next week (Feb 12). Even though I asked about "next Sunday" it's not actually the next Sunday.

If somebody asked you "Where did you work last year?" they likely wouldn't mean literally all of 2016 or even the previous 365 days. There would likely be more context to it. Consider this conversation.

Judy says

"Thanks for coming to visit me on my Birthday!", to which I reply

"My pleasure! It was easy for me to get here because my new office is just around the corner."

"Where did you work last year?"

"On the other side of town."

Judy isn't asking me what my job has been for the last 365 days, she's asking me where I worked on her birthday last year.

It is a confusing topic that native English speakers still get confused about.

In your specific scenario, it wouldn't be rude to ask him "Do you mean this week and last?" or "Do you meant the last 14 days?" or "Do you mean last week and the week before?". I personally have found it common to ask for clarification of dates in casual conversation. Legal documents and conversation where it really matters would likely have explicit dates.

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