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I find it confusing when tomorrow is used to speak of a day in the future other than the following day. Is it proper to use it in reference to any specific day in the future?

I am aware that the dictionary defines tomorrow as a time in near future. To me this refers to an ambiguous time and it is not confusing when used as such. But, is it proper to use it of any specific day in the future other than the day after tomorrow.

Ex. "We are going to the park tomorrow." Based on the dictionary definition, a student is using tomorrow to refer to a different day in the coming week. Am I wrong to correct this?

Is there a reputable source that confines the near future use of this word to metaphorical ambiguous future.

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closed as general reference by tchrist, Bravo, Mitch, Kristina Lopez, MετάEd Mar 8 '13 at 23:51

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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“There would have been a time for such a word. / Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, / Creeps in this petty pace from day to day / To the last syllable of recorded time, / And all our yesterdays have lighted fools / The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! / Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / And then is heard no more: it is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” –  tchrist Mar 8 '13 at 17:12
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Aside from metaphorical uses, tomorrow is only the day after today, just as yesterday is only the day before today, except that in narrative these may be used relative to reference time: see here –  StoneyB Mar 8 '13 at 17:39
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'Tomorrow' when referring to a specific day, if you are being strict, only means the day after today, not any other day. If you are being very loose, it means the future. It can never mean exactly two days from now. Given that, what instances do you plan/have you seen otherwise? –  Mitch Mar 8 '13 at 17:40
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“All our tomorrows find their own ways / And hear the sound of a distant thunder fading away / Well, every lonely night we'll make our own brand of delight / And take all the comfort we may.” –Joe Cocker –  tchrist Mar 8 '13 at 18:10
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You are not wrong to correct that student's use of tomorrow for a future day - in that context it means the literal day after today, not some figurative future time. In contrast, if the student had written, "There's always tomorrow for dreams to come true!", that could be considered some ambiguous future time. –  Kristina Lopez Mar 8 '13 at 18:46

2 Answers 2

If you check with a dictionary you would realize

tomorrow (adverb)

on the day after today: the show opens tomorrow.

in the future, esp. the near future: East Germany will not disappear tomorrow.

tomorrow (noun)

the day after today: tomorrow is going to be a special day.

the future, esp. the near future: today's engineers are tomorrow's buyers.

[updates]

@Sarah I don't think so. If tomorrow can be used to specify a particular day in the future besides the day after today, by merely looking at the word "tomorrow", it is impossible for one to tell which particular day it refers to in the future. There are infinite possibilities (Let n be the value that represents today's date, x be a positive integer, n+x can represent an infinite set of values) and it makes no sense to me.

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@Sarah Regarding of that I've updated my answer. –  0ar.ch Mar 8 '13 at 18:09
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One might point out that if today is Monday, tomorrow can only be Tuesday. And if it is Monday but we are thinking ahead to Saturday, then its own morrow — not its tomorrow — will be Sunday. But people don’t talk that way very much any longer. –  tchrist Mar 8 '13 at 18:12
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And nowadays we use the expression the following day to replace morrow. –  0ar.ch Mar 8 '13 at 18:16
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@Sarah No, don’t use morrow that way; it’s archaic, and works only in certain contexts and styles. Just say the next day, or the day after, or something like that. –  tchrist Mar 8 '13 at 20:17
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@Sarah: I think the short answer is "No". You can't, for instance, say something like "We'll fly to Paris on Monday, then visit the Louvre tomorrow". Apart from the non-specific [near] future sense presented above, tomorrow always means the day after today (where today is always the day on which the utterance is made). –  FumbleFingers Mar 8 '13 at 22:25

Many dictionaries (like Collins and Macmillan) list a secondary meaning for tomorrow, but that meaning is in an abstract sense, as in:

Today's graduates are the leaders of tomorrow.

The word either expresses the day after today, or else a vague sense of sometime in the future. If today was Friday, I would not use tomorrow to refer to next Tuesday; if today is a day in March, I would not use tomorrow to refer to a specific date this summer. I don't think that's the way the word should be used, even when you're using the word as a substitute for the future.

If my daughter was already engaged, I would not say "She'll be married tomorrow" – not unless it was the day before her wedding. I suppose, though, if my daughter was in kindergarten, I might say, "She'll be married tomorrow" as a way of saying that she'll only be young for a finite amount of time, but I think even that is a stretch. I'd be better off saying something like, "She'll be married before we know it."

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