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This question reminded me of a debate I have with non-native English speakers.

If today is Thursday and I say that something is to happen "next Saturday", does that mean the "Saturday in two days" or the "Saturday in a week and two days"? Alternatively, if today is Thursday and I say "next Monday", does this mean the "Monday in 4 days" or the "Monday in a week and 4 days"?

Similarly, using "this Monday" and "next Monday" have always been confusing to me as to which Monday it is depending on what day it currently is.

  • For purposes of clarity, I tend to say something like "not this Monday but the next" to remove all ambiguity. – Ken Bellows Jan 28 '13 at 17:55
  • For clarity, I have ceased using 'next Saturday' and now use 'Saturday week' to refer to 'the Saturday after this coming Saturday'. – mwotton Oct 7 '14 at 3:36
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"This Saturday" surely does mean the closest Saturday in the future. But "next Saturday" has become ambiguous. I've been asked more than once when I used the expression whether it's meant to be the Saturday in this week, or in the week after. (I would usually mean the week after, but if today is Sunday, I might use "next Saturday" to mean the Saturday six days from now. So I find myself being inconsistent.)

Even more subject to confusion is "the Saturday after next", which I'd assume means "the second Saturday from today" -- but I'd want additional confirmation, since not everyone seems to make the same assumption.

Regarding "this Monday" and "next Monday" (or indeed any day of the week), the interpretation does seem to differ depending on what day it is today. If you're making an appointment, I'd suggest confirming the date.

Edit: Inspired by comments, the closest next Saturday can also be identified as "this coming Saturday", and the next following Saturday, as "Saturday week" or (as I learned it) "Saturday a week". As the comments indicate, accurate identification still depends on a (possibly explicit) agreement between speaker and listener.

(Bias: native speaker, of an "older generation".)

  • 2
    +1 for getting that all-important word ambiguous in early! It's not much use having conflicting answers from people who think their conventions are unambiguous, provided everyone else adopts them. (And thanks on behalf of all those who might have picked up "bad" habits had you stuck to your "all lower case" principles on ELL! :) – FumbleFingers Jan 28 '13 at 22:48
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    +1 After 25 years my wife and I still don't know what the other means by 'next Saturday'. (I'm not sure I mean anything consistently!) So we say 'this coming Saturday' and 'Saturday week'. – StoneyB Jan 29 '13 at 3:01
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    @FumbleFingers -- +1 for the name (it sounds like my husband's tag line for messages sent from his smartphone). This site isn't related to my job, and it's a place where good examples of written English usage really mean something, so my "all lower case" principles aren't relevant here. – barbara beeton Jan 29 '13 at 13:27
  • @StoneyB: I also like to use 'Saturday week' whenever it's appropriate. Every now and then I find I have to explain it to younger people who aren't familiar with the usage, so I feel I'm doing my bit by keeping it alive. – FumbleFingers Jan 29 '13 at 16:42
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    @bytebuster -- enough to make one tear one's hair out! So one can sometimes interpret X week as day X in the current week. Oy! – barbara beeton Jan 31 '13 at 15:02
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Most of the people would think the following way:

Today is Monday (28/1/2013) and "this Saturday" would mean the approaching Saturday (2/2/2013).

Today is Monday (28/1/2013) and "the next Saturday" would mean the next Saturday after the approaching Saturday (9/2/2013) .

BUT

Some of them may be confused and they might want to be clear. So they may say "Do you mean this Saturday or the next Saturday?". Then you have to clarify once more. So this is peoples own opinion on this.

  • Would it be the same for: "Today is Sunday and this Monday / next Monday... ? ? Or the following Monday would be actually "next Monday"? – MasterPJ Jan 28 '13 at 15:33
  • @MasterPJ, This Monday is the very next Monday. Next Monday is the Monday after the very next Monday. – Mistu4u Jan 28 '13 at 15:35
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If today is Sunday (or any day) and you say, "This Sunday" it means "this coming sunday." That is what "this Sunday" is short for. If you say, "next Sunday" it is referring to the following after a previously stated Sunday, or the following Sunday after "this Sunday" with the understanding that person you are talking to knows what this Sunday means.

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Next means next. The house next door isn't eight houses down the block. It's beside your house. Next Saturday is the next one coming up.

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    Thank you for telling us how you use the phrase. But the fact is, many people use it differently. Proclaiming your personal preference as if it were a universally accepted (or even objectively correct) answer is not helpful. – Scott Oct 7 '14 at 1:33
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I am so confused about this and reading the comments confirmed how varied the understanding of "next week " is. I emigrated from Soith Africa to Australia 20 years ago and had several misunderstandings in my first few years about the meanings of "next week" and "just now" . I think I meant the earlier day and Australians meant the week later day. Now picture this scenario which made me go and look up about this...an old university friend from South Africa who emigrated to UK 30 years ago sends me a Skype txt saying he can't chat today (my Sunday , his sat pm) but can we chat "next Tuesday". I don't know what he means given how my usage has changed and how his usage may have chaged in UK. I think my only way to be clear is to ask if he means in about 2 days time or about 9 days time.! Ken in Oz

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