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Which day does “next Tuesday” refer to?

I got a fortune cookie with the message you will have lots of fun next weekend on a Wednesday. Which weekend does this refer to? Is it the one in three days or the one after that?

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marked as duplicate by KitFox, aedia λ, FumbleFingers, MετάEd, Will Hunting Jan 25 '12 at 15:57

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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@Will Nor does it address Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. That doesn't mean it is not a duplicate. –  KitFox Jan 25 '12 at 13:12
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Wow, do you really take a fortune cookie so seriously that you need to carefully parse its meaning? It would be a terrible thing if you misinterpreted the fortune cookie and attempted to have fun on the wrong weekend. :-) –  Jay Jan 25 '12 at 16:14

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

This is a good question and an eternal ambiguity, at least in American English. We commonly use next weekend to refer to the weekend that is absolutely closest to us in the future only when we are close enough to the previous weekend that this weekend could refer to the weekend just past.

For example, if it's Monday or even Tuesday, this weekend could mean the weekend we just had. For example:

Q. What did you do this weekend?
A. We went skiing.

And next weekend then refers to the coming weekend:

Q. So are you going to go again next weekend?
A. I'm not sure.

If it's Thursday or later, this weekend more likely refers to the coming weekend.

Q. Do you want to go skiing this weekend?
A. I have a party this weekend. But I'm free next weekend.

But if you're on the cusp (Wednesday, give or take a day), you would probably have to make clear which weekend you really did mean.

Q. Do you want to go skiing next weekend?
A. You mean this coming weekend or the one after?

Note that this coming weekend invariably refers to the weekend closest to the present date.

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There is no consensus on whether "Next weekend" means the coming weekend, or the weekend following that. It varies from speaker to speaker, and also depends on what day it is when it's said -- the meaning is clear when spoken on a Saturday (it means the weekend following the current one), and becomes less clear through the week.

When it's important, you should clarify if you're the speaker, or ask for clarification if you're the listener.

The message on the fortune cookie is not true (except, perhaps, by coincidence), so it doesn't matter what it means :)

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I agree. If it is capable of being misunderstood, then you have to specify. +1 since this is the only answer referring to the actual question. –  Em1 Jan 25 '12 at 15:25

Looking at the "verb tense" of the sentence should be enough. The only thing I can say "this" may have a "limited scope" in time span where "last" and "next" come into usage. Consider:

I watched TV this/last weekend

I will watch TV this/next weekend

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