English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I would like to start planning for next year.

In the above sentence, there is no definite article before the words next year. Should it be present, as in the following sentence which sounds far less natural to me?

I would like to start planning for the next year.

Or, is it more proper to leave it out as in the first sentence? What is the reasoning behind the correct usage in this context?

share|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Next in this usage is better regarded as a determiner rather than as an adjective. ( http://simple.wiktionary.org/wiki/next ) (compare last year, this year). The use of another definite determiner (the) is thus superfluous. However, this does not apply with following, present, and previous, where the definite article is needed to pre-modify:

I wanted to start planning for the following year.

I'd guess that following etc are behaving more like adjectives, so there needs to be a definite determiner (the definite article) added. Next grades into adjectivalness, so the definite article is an option. With this, the adjectival component does not exist, so we can't say for the this year.

share|improve this answer

In your particular example, I would say that next year refers to 2013, while the next year refers to the twelve-month period ending at the end of November 2013. (Not much difference in practice, but more if you use the phrase in February). I can't explain the difference, but I'm sure it's there; perhaps it's just idiomatic.

share|improve this answer
So, what you're saying is that the next year implies for the following year beginning twelve months from now. – Michael Goldshteyn Nov 26 '12 at 20:16
@MichaelGoldshteyn: No. 'the twelvemonth starting tomorrow', approximately. – TimLymington Nov 26 '12 at 21:15

They are both valid, and mostly mean the same. When you use "the" you are indicating a specific next year, which in most contexts will be the one following current. But it is certainly possible for that not to be true. Consider this:

  • Boss: Where are we at with long term planning?
  • Me: I would like to start planning for next year. (2013)
  • Boss: 2013? What about after that?
  • Me: No problem, I will also start planning for the next year too (2014.)
share|improve this answer
It would seem that the adjective 'next' takes the place of 'the' in the second bullet point, so that the article becomes redundant and can therefore be ommitted. In the fourth bullet point, the article adds meaning and must be present. Is this correct? – Michael Goldshteyn Nov 26 '12 at 17:42
@MichaelGoldshteyn Yes. When next year means "the year which follows this year", next acts as a determiner, just like the or this. Otherwise, next is just an adjective, and a determiner is required. – StoneyB Nov 26 '12 at 17:45
I don't think they "mostly mean the same". As your 2014 example clearly shows, you normally only include "the" when referring to a year other than the one immediately after the current year. And even then, only in contexts where the year that came before it has been explicitly mentioned earlier in the discourse. – FumbleFingers Nov 26 '12 at 17:55
Personally, I would always say 'following' rather than 'next' in your last line. – TimLymington Nov 26 '12 at 18:21

Idiomatically, if you say "I'll go next Tuesday", then putting aside any ambiguity over whether "next" means after today, or after this week, it's effectively always relative to "now".

You say "I'll go the next Tuesday" only when some other event in the context establishes a different timeframe ("I'll go the next Tuesday after my car is repaired", for example).

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.