This Week? Next Week?

So we had a big debate over the concept of “this” vs “next” [insert day of week] at work a few weeks back. I took this debate and have gotten a few more people’s input on it, and now would like to know yours.

Before I infuse any sort of idea into your head, you might want to copy and paste the following blob and decide on your own what it means to you:

I’m posting this on Wednesday (4/16), but if you’re reading this not on a Wednesday, lets just assume this is a Wednesday for now. Which date would it correspond to if someone said the following:

  • Today: __________
  • This Tuesday: __________
  • This Wednesday: __________
  • This Thursday: __________
  • This Saturday: __________
  • This Sunday: __________
  • Next Tuesday: __________
  • Next Wednesday: __________
  • Next Thursday: __________
  • Next Saturday: __________
  • Next Sunday: __________

One additional question to ask yourself: Which day of the week does your week start?

Now that you have your answers, lets go over what I’ve found.

First off, lets start with which day of the week does a week start on. For me, it’s always been Monday, so I’ve always disagreed with how the calendar is laid out, which typically starts the week off on Sunday. For me, Sunday is part of the weekend, which as the word signifies, the end of the week.

However, Ungsunghero told me he always thought of “weekend” similarly to “bookend”, as in they are the 2 ends of the week. That actually made a lot of sense and I confirmed with him that the adjacent Saturday and Sunday are part of 2 different weeks. I then asked what “this weekend” meant to him and he agreed that would refer to the coming Saturday and Sunday and maybe even Friday.

Before we go into This/Next [insert day of week], let me give 2 more examples (still assuming today is Wednesday). Does any one of the following sound weird to you?

  • We are going bowling this Tuesday.
  • We went bowling this Tuesday.

If you believe this Tuesday refers to the coming Tuesday (4/22), the 2nd sentence would sound weird/incorrect to you. If you believe this Tuesday refers to yesterday (4/15), the first sentence will sound weird/incorrect to you.

I’m part of the latter group that believe this Tuesday refers to yesterday.

Now we can get into the big blob above. Given today is Wednesday 4/16, as I mentioned above, “This Tuesday” typically refers to either yesterday (4/15) or the coming Tuesday (4/22). For me, “this” refers to “this week’s”, so “this Tuesday” refers to “this week’s Tuesday” and I’ve already defined my week to begin on Monday and end on Sunday.

However for some, this [insert day of week] can never refer to the past, so they’re more incline to think it refers to the coming Tuesday (I’m going to avoid using next since it just adds to the confusion. I assuming coming Tuesday is non-ambiguous).

Since we’re on Tuesday, let’s jump to “Next Tuesday”. For most, I would assume it means the coming Tuesday (4/22), however I believe a few would say it would actually refer to the Tuesday after that (4/29).

“This Wednesday” is another difficult one given that today is Wednesday, however I would say it would be referring to today (4/16), though I don’t think many would ever use that in context. I assume some would say it refers to the coming Wednesday (4/23). As for “Next Wednesday”, it refers to the coming Wednesday (4/23) for me and I assume some would think it refers to the Wednesday after that (4/30).

I’m pretty sure most people would agree “This Thursday” and “Next Thursday” refer to 4/17 and 4/24 respectively. However, I can also see people thinking both this/next Thursday referring to tomorrow (4/17).

Similar to Thursday, I believe this/next Saturday works the same way.

As for “This Sunday”, some think it refers to this past Sunday (since their week starts on Sunday), but for me it refers the coming Sunday, since my week ends on Sunday. Similarly, “Next Sunday” would be just 1 additional week after “This Sunday”, but I guess for some, it’s possible that both this Sunday and next Sunday refer to this coming Sunday (4/20).

There, does your head hurt now? Then I’ve accomplished my goal. ;p

6 thoughts on “This Week? Next Week?

  1. I understand that “this” days are always future dates and are generally within the same week as the moment being stated, although not explicitly. I believe “this” references the next immediate day in the future and “next” to reference the first occurrence of said date AFTER the immediate occurence. For example, if today is Monday:

    “We’re going bowling this Wednesday.” Refers to the immediate Wednesday within the week.

    “We’re going bowling next Wednesday.” Refers to the next week’s Wednesday (So CurrentWeek+1)

    If we went bowling the Satuday before (So CurrentWeek-1):

    “We went bowling this PAST Saturday.”

    I don’t find stating “We went bowling this Saturday,” grammtically sensical; however, I am unaware of any grammar rules stating otherwise. In this case (where I refer to an event in the subjectively recent past), I generally state “We went bowling the other day/night.”

    The tricky part are days which have already passed in the current week with the next occurrence lying in the following week.

    For clarification, if today is Wednesday:

    “We are going bowling Monday.” This makes intuitive sense that we are going bowling the Monday coming up (which lies in CurrentWeek+1)

    “We are going bowling this Monday.” (Or for clarification I sometimes state, “We are going bowling this Monday coming up.”) I interpret this the same as above since, there are no Mondays left within my current week.

    “We are going bowling next Monday.” I understand this to be the next Monday following the immediate Monday. So CurrentWeek+2.

    So if regional demographics are a factor in your musings, this is from the Southeast region (more specifically, LA.) And for what it’s worth, I refer to the weekend as Friday (anytime after work), Saturday, Sunday with Monday being (inappropriately) addressed as the start of the week.

  2. While I generally agree with you, I would not use most of those phrases in practice. I have also noticed using this X / next X results in great confusion, especially with regards to Sunday. For example, Angel insists that *next* Sunday is part of *this* weekend, which is a contradiction my head cannot contain. Where I grew up no one ever got confused about this, so I think it’s possible it’s regional.

  3. Also, did you realize that in hispanic culture, the week officially starts on lunes (Monday) and ends on domingo (Sunday)? I believe Outlook has a setting that lets you control which one comes first on the calendar.

  4. Awesome responses and thanks for the info Ryan.

    What’s interesting is that I might be actually influenced by Chinese since as the Wikipedia article states, this is how Chinese days of the week are named:

    Monday = 星期一 (Week Day #1)
    Tuesday = 星期二 (Week Day #2)
    Wednesday = 星期三 (Week Day #3)
    Thursday = 星期四 (Week Day #4)
    Friday = 星期五 (Week Day #4)
    Saturday = 星期六 (Week Day #6)
    Sunday = 星期日/星期天 (Week Day #Sun/#Day/#Sky)

  5. It is all relative. This Monday really can be short for “This last Monday”, “This week’s Monday”, or “This coming week’s Monday”. Context clues, especially verb tense, help one determine which one it is. Next is a bit trickier, but it can mean “The next Monday from now” or “Next week’s Monday”. Once again, it is a matter of context and such. If the day is within the same week or within a few days, generally, you would say “this”.

    Whenever a person would be better using “this” rather than “next”, they will. So if someone on Wednesday the 16th wants to talk about tomorrow, Thursday the 17th, they would normally say “this Thursday”. If they say “next Thursday”, they must mean the 24th, since otherwise they would use “this” instead.

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