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I have an exercise requesting me to cross out a word in each sentence if it is redundant. There is a sentence in that exercise:

I’m writing to tell you that I can’t come and stay with you the next weekend.

Is ‘the’ necessary here? Can I cross out it? I ask this question because sometimes people use the right before next:

We had a big argument, but he called me the next day (= the day after) to apologize. Cambridge dictionary

However, there are still some cases they don’t use the:

The doctor will call next week to check on your progress.

  • You can cross out more than the there. "I can't come stay with you next weekend" says it all. – Robusto Apr 4 '18 at 3:54
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Let's break this question into two pieces.

What's Redundant

The exercise instructs you to cross out redundant words in the sentence. Redundant means not needed or superfluous.

I'd argue that the entire beginning of the sentence is redundant because someone reading the sentence already knows that you're writing to tell them something. In American English at least, you can also omit the and between come and stay as well (ht: Robusto).

I’m writing to tell you that I can’t come and stay with you the next weekend.

Next Weekend vs. The Next Weekend

I don't think there's enough context to know whether the sentence should be "next weekend" or "the next weekend," since they mean different things. I suspect it's the former, but it's just a guess, and it's worth a short discussion about the difference.

English has a slight, unfortunate ambiguity in how the near future is described:

  1. "this weekend" = current weekend or first upcoming weekend
  2. "next weekend" = first or second upcoming weekend
  3. "the next weekend" = first weekend after some previously referenced date

Example conversation:

A: Do you want to meet next weekend?

B: Do you mean this weekend or the following weekend?

A: The following weekend.

B: Sorry, I can't make it. How about the first weekend next month?

A: Can't do it, but I can meet the next weekend.

B: That works. See you then.

So, getting back to your question, it's possible that "the next weekend" makes sense, if they're talking about the weekend following some previously discussed date. It seems unlikely, though, and I tend to agree that it should be "next weekend."

The same rule applies to your other examples. The apology happens "the next day", i.e. the day after the argument. The doctor calls next week, i.e. the first upcoming week.

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The difference between "next week" and "the next week", or "next weekend" and "the next weekend" is about the same as the difference between "tomorrow" and "the next day". "Next week" and "next weekend" are "next" relative to today.

"Come visit next weekend" = if today's Friday the 9th, then come visit me on Saturday and Sunday, the 17th and 18th this month. (If today's Monday the 5th, some people might still mean the 17th and 18th while saying "this weekend" for the 10th and the 11th; others will call the 10th and the 11th "next weekend". I've run across arguments over that.)

"You'll be back from vacation on Wednesday, June 15? Come visit me the next weekend." That's Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19, regardless of how far in the future that is from today.

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  • +1 Thanks for expressing the difference so succinctly. :-) – godel9 Apr 4 '18 at 2:57

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