I'm trying to systematize the use of 'the' with ranking adjectives like 'next', 'following', 'third', etc.

What I know is usually ranking adjective is used with the:

I will pay the next time we have dinner.

Don't forget the following rule.

But at the same time:

Maybe I can do that next summer.

We could get together next Monday.

I think I did well on the test, but I won't know until next week.

So, as I understand it:

Next + days of week, seasons and the noun phrase next week are just some exceptions I have encountered so far.

I want to know when to put the and when not to. If I'm oversimplifying the matter or completely mistaken about it, that's all right. I just need to figure it out.


2 Answers 2


The rule for next Monday and the next Monday is simple.

Next Monday refers to the Monday that comes after the present one (US)/ the Monday that comes after the present one or previous one (British)

If you refer to a different Monday in the future or in the past, you have to use 'the'.

A Monday in the past: "When we arrived, we were told that the airport would open only the next Monday."

A Monday in the future that's later then next Monday: "We will be arriving there in two week's time and the crew will follow the next Monday."

Likewise for the next year, the next season, etc...


When we talk about days of the week, weeks, months, years, seasons or public holidays in the future in relation to now, we use next without the and without a preposition:

  • I have an appointment with the dentist next Wednesday morning.
    (Not: … the next Wednesday morning).
  • Are you working next week?
    (Not: Are you working on next week?)
  • Next year will be our fortieth wedding anniversary.
  • We’re going to plant some new flowers next spring.

To refer to the future, we can use the next few hours, the next two days, the next six months, etc.:

  • I’ll finish the work in the next few days. You can pay me then.
  • We’ll be home for the next three weeks, then we’re going away to France for two weeks.

When we talk about times in the past or future not related to now, we normally use the. However, in informal situations, we can omit the when we talk about the past:

  • The next day we travelled to the ancient city of Qom.
  • We’re going to spend the first night in Oslo, then the next day we’ll fly to Narvik.
  • Two policemen grabbed me. Next minute, I was arrested and thrown into a van.

Page 319, English Grammar Today, Cambridge University Press, ©2011   [online link]

See also section 4.4.6 (c), Page 281- Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English, ©1999. The article is too long to quote here.

  • Interesting. Sounds plausible. Do you have a source for this guidance? We prefer answers that identify references. Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 22:59
  • @Scott: I found it for you.
    – Than Oo
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 9:57
  • See section 4.4.6 (c), Page 281- Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English, (C)1999. The article is too long to quote here.
    – Than Oo
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 10:29
  • @ThanOo It's best to put references and additions to your answer in the answer itself by editing it. Comments can dissappear and should not be used for anything that is or supports an answer.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 10:32
  • (1) Thanks for identifying your source.  (2) It doesn’t entirely support your answer.  You say, “Next Monday refers to the soonest Monday that comes after today.”  Well, that might be true for “Monday”, but that’s a special case, so it’s a bad example.  If today is Wednesday, October 12, then “next Friday” is Friday, October 21 (the Friday of next week) — as stated here, here, and here — and not Friday, October 14 (the soonest Friday that comes after today). Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 1:16

Those ranking adjectives are definite ordinal determiners. 'The' is itself an ordinal determiner with offset=0 ('next'=+1, ...). Despite the redundancy, we still say things like 'I'll take the next cab.' It is wise to keep 'the' for definiteness, so we aren't tripped up by proper nouns like 'Next Wave Cab Co.' Time periods such as 'Monday' are already proper nouns, so we can drop 'the' unless there are multiples to choose from (such as 'the Monday after the test'). Time periods are often used as adverbials. They are so common that we often omit the comma that marks them as adverbial. PS: 'until next week' can be expanded to ', until [it{now} is] [at] [the] next week'.


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