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I always find phrases like in the next three weeks, in the coming three weeks, or in the following three weeks confusing.

I think there are two explanations for this kind of phrase.

Are explanations (1) and (2) both correct?

Which explanation is used more often?


Explanation (1):

Meaning that if today is Tuesday on June 9, we count 21 days starting from June 10.


Explanation (2)

Meaning that if today is Tuesday on June 9, we skip over this week (which today belongs to) and consider only the period of the three weeks following the end of this week

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    The third is quite different, meaning in the weeks following a particular event. The first is a definite 3 week period, but I would use the second phrasing for an indefinite period: in the coming weeks... Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 17:48
  • Those three phrases are not intended to be precise. On a Monday morning (the 8th, say), "in the next three weeks" would probably be taken to mean "by Monday the 29th". Towards the end of the week, "in the coming three weeks" would mean "in the three weeks starting on Monday." The third sentence wouldn't be used in the same situation. When greater precision is needed people might say, "by July the first" or "in the three weeks starting on Monday". Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 17:54
  • @WeatherVane The 3 week period you said for the use of "in the next 3 weeks" starts from around Jane 9 or Jane 10, right?
    – vincentlin
    Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 17:28
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    Yes, some time between now and the end of the month, but today would be a surprise, because you would not have phrased it as "in the next three weeks". Whatever the event is, could also be a gradual process: "I hope to lose 2 kg weight in the next three weeks." Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 18:29
  • 1
    Yes, you can start counting from 'now'. Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 14:22

1 Answer 1

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Once again, it is not all about the grammar.

in the next three weeks, in the coming three weeks, or in the following three weeks confusing.

Yes it is confusing because we have isolated these three phrases and we therefore have no information to support us as we try to understand the meaning of each. What is the context? what is the location? in your examples we have no indication therefore to give a definitive answer is not possible.

in the next three weeks

The first example is possibly the easiest to explain, which is fortunate, as it is probably the most commonly used of the three phrases.

If this is used in a general context it vaguely starts from some time now. If it is in work environment where the company follows a strict working week schedule it starts from the first day of the next working week.

For example a logistics company would need to be very precise when relating to time schedules where as a pet shop possibly does not need such a precise schedule.

next; adjective, pronoun; being the first one after the present one or after the one just mentioned: RefC.E.D.


in the coming three weeks,

The second example

This is a vague context and means something is happening soon and of course, soon is a relative word.

coming; adjective [ before noun ]; happening soon: Ref C.E.D.


Having said that, with all your examples, it also depends on the topic of the conversation and therefore the context of said conversation. This is particularly true in your third example as we have been left dangling off a cliff!

in the following three weeks

Following what? Do we make an assumption following has been used instead of "the next"? or has there been something previously mentioned that we can relate the start to.

following; adjective; [not gradable] (NEXT) Ref C.E.D.

coming or happening after something else in order or time:

Here is an example of how following could be used

I’m busy on Thursday, but I’m free the following day.

So for your example I would expect something like this

During the first two weeks of July the factory will be closed and in the following three weeks we will be really busy.

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