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Searching for "next day we went", I find the majority of results to include the before "next day". But there are instances without the:

Next day we went to the station to book our tickets for the train to Roma.

Are both options equally natural? Is there any difference in meaning?

The next day we went to the station to book our tickets for the train to Roma.

I know that when we use "next day" with or without an article, the meaning might differ in some contexts:

(today is February 3, 2015)
"On February 1, he said the boots will be ready next day" ( = on February 4)
"On February 1, he said the boots will be ready the next day ( = on February 2)

P.S. the above is probably an invalid example, here's one from a linguistic paper:

In 2001, he said he’d come back Ø next year (= in 2016)
In 2001, he said he’d come back the next year (= in 2002)

But this must be not applicable in clearly defined past contexts, as in the examples with "(∅/the) next day we went".

  • I think it has to be "the next day" since it will always be a specific day. – user3169 Feb 2 '15 at 21:03
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    Compare example 1.24 here. – snailcar Feb 2 '15 at 21:03
  • Thanks, @snailboat! So it's a "conversational deletion"! You might post an answer! – CowperKettle Feb 2 '15 at 21:07
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"Next day", without, "the" sounds very strange to me (native Australian English speaker). The only possible common usage might be in advertising copy, e.g. "We offer next day service" - but generally that kind of advertising does not reflect good grammar or even normal usage.

I would always say "the next day".

Note that in your second example, omitting "the" doesn't indicate that the boots are ready on the 4th, as opposed to the 2nd. You need to leave "the" in there, but the sentence is ambiguous anyway.

  • Why do I need to leave the? "When we talk about days of the week, weeks, months, years, seasons or public holidays in the future in relation to now, we use next without the and without a preposition" (Oxford Dictionaries) – CowperKettle Feb 3 '15 at 3:03
  • That's a good point @CopperKettle - it is correct to say "the boots will be ready next week/month/year" but it is wrong to say *"the boots will be ready next day". Welcome to English. :-) – brendan Feb 3 '15 at 22:41
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    Thank you, Brendan, I'll read up on this. I feel like I'll be always welcomed to English, no matter how much I read... – CowperKettle Feb 4 '15 at 4:34
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    @CopperKettle It says "days of the week", and that means Monday through Sunday. So you can say "My birthday is next Tuesday", but you can't say *"My birthday is next day". – snailcar Feb 4 '15 at 16:52

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