98

At what point does next Tuesday mean

the next Tuesday that will come to pass

and no longer

the Tuesday after the Tuesday that will come to pass?

And, when does the meaning switch back?

7
  • 9
    This leads to lots of problem on a Sunday, as it is not even well defined what "next week" and "this week" means.
    – Ian
    Oct 11 '10 at 15:20
  • 10
    I suspect that 'next Tuesday' is that day when Wimpy finally pays for all those hamburgers he's eaten.
    – oosterwal
    Jan 30 '11 at 4:29
  • 8
    Hey, you tricked me! Are we really supposed to close an older question as a duplicate of a newer one?
    – Daniel
    Nov 1 '11 at 21:11
  • 2
    I bet the imperial system stroke again. When does the entire world finally go metric?
    – MarcH
    Dec 3 '15 at 21:36
  • 1
    To make this even more fun, US calendars split WEs in two and start their week on Sundays.
    – MarcH
    Oct 9 '19 at 19:43
58

To me, “next Tuesday” means the Tuesday that comes next week. For example, on Monday, October 11 and Wednesday, October 13, “next Tuesday” means October 19. Whereas on Monday, October 18, “next Tuesday” means October 26. “This Tuesday” refers to the Tuesday that comes this week, which on Wednesday would refer to yesterday, and on Monday refers to tomorrow. Similarly, “Last Tuesday” is the Tuesday that came last week. Without any descriptors, day names by themselves mean the next such day in the future unless used in the past tense. “He will do it on Tuesday” means the next time there is a Tuesday, which on Monday would mean “tomorrow” but on Wednesday would mean the following Tuesday. In the past tense, day names mean the last such day which occurred. “He did it on Tuesday” means the most recent day that was a Tuesday.

Not everyone may agree with this analysis, but in my experience this is what most people mean when they use “this”, “last”, and “next” with day names.

16
  • 17
    To refer specifically to the most recently past Tuesday or the nearest approaching Tuesday, I say "this past Tuesday" or "this coming Tuesday"; to refer to the Tuesday that occurred in the most recently completed week, or the Tuesday of the next week that has yet to start, I say "last week Tuesday" or "next week Tuesday", respectively. This is the norm at least in my area of New England.
    – Jon Purdy
    Oct 8 '10 at 23:48
  • 3
    I notice people also say "the Tuesday after next", which would imply that the tomorrow (if it's Monday) is next Tuesday.
    – MSpeed
    May 5 '11 at 8:18
  • 2
    +1 I've tried explaining this to my family half a dozen times...Furthermore, I was just forcefully reminded of that scene in Spaceballs. "When will 'then' be 'now'?!" :)
    – kitukwfyer
    Jun 8 '11 at 21:34
  • 4
    As an AmEnglish speaker I agree with nohat's analysis. The British employ "Tuesday week" to clarify, which means 'Tuesday of next week,' or 'Tuesday in a week,' but certainly not the Tuesday of this week.
    – Mark
    Nov 2 '11 at 10:35
  • 1
    This does not answer the question. During which of the nights (presumably between Friday and Monday) does the change of meaning take place? And at which point in time (presumably some midnight)? Mar 23 '15 at 10:59
51

This clearly has no definitive answer - usage varies between speakers. To me, "next Tuesday" means (strictly) the next instance of a Tuesday, although I just wouldn't use it on Sunday or Monday (preferring the day after tomorrow/tomorrow or an unqualified "Tuesday", which generally refers to the current week, past or present). However, I accept that this is personal and that others may sometimes mean "the next Tuesday but one", bizarre as that may seem.

This assumes that I know what day it is, which cannot always be relied on.

3
  • It has also struck me that the written form disguises two spoken forms: one contrastive, with emphasis on "next", the other unmarked and evenly stressed. I think that I'd almost always use the contrastive form for seven days from today, for example, or otherwise when there is perceived scope for confusion. When both the-next-Tuesday and the-Tuesday-after-that are referred to, "this Tuesday" and "next Tuesday" may be used together. And most of the comments relating to "next" can also be applied mutatis mutandis to "last". Oct 9 '10 at 23:20
  • 8
    When I moved from Ireland to the USA I noticed that I was always getting into misunderstandings with Americans over "this" vs. "next". There was some subtle difference in usage between the two sides of the Atlantic that I never quite pinned down. I now consistently never use "this" or "next" alone. I will always say "this coming Tuesday" or "Tuesday of next week". Nov 29 '12 at 6:36
  • I agree. Logically, any phrase that refers to a Tuesday that has not happened could be confused with the next Tuesday on the calendar, or the one after that. I've even seen "this" used to refer to the most recent in the past! As a result, I rarely use "next" or "this" and use dates to be exact and avoid problems.
    – ow3n
    Dec 13 '17 at 13:15
16

My preferred use is to specify "this coming Tuesday" or "the Tuesday after next" when I talk about days, specifically because of the ambiguity of what "next Tuesday" could be.

That's just my preference, though.

1
  • 2
    "the Tuesday after next" doesn't resolve the ambiguity. To someone for whom "next Tuesday" means "next week's Tuesday", "the Tuesday after next" means "the Tuesday after next week's Tuesday" i.e. "the Tuesday in two weeks". That's how I would interpret it.
    – JBentley
    May 7 '18 at 8:40
8

My answer to another question making a similar inquiry about using the phrase "next week"—

The issue isn't as definitive as you might think. Ultimately, it comes down to what interpretation of "next" you consider to be correct. For example, the American Heritage Dictionary (4th ed) defines 'next' simply as

Immediately following, as in time, order, or sequence

Following this definition, "next weekend" will always mean the weekend with the start date in closes proximity in time. If the phrase is used during a weekend, of course, you'd be referring to the weekend following the one you are currently experiencing.

However, the issue gets more complicated if you look to other definitions. The Oxford American Dictionary has a specific definition for 'next' when used in the context of time:

(of a day of the week) nearest (or the nearest but one) after the present : not this Wednesday, next Wednesday

Here, we're given the choice: it can either mean the weekend with the closest start date, or the following one (as specified by the parenthetical addition or the nearest but one).

This definition has come about mostly because of usage development. Many words and phrases in the english dictionary have meanings contrary to their technical definitions, and yet are still used commonly and considered valid. Thus, while technically "next" implies immediate sequence, it is used in other ways (which dictionaries like the OAD have accommodated for validity), so it's really a matter of personal preference. For example, it is unlikely that I will even use the phrase "next weekend" during the week, because some people might be confused as to what I am referring to. Instead, I will say "this weekend," unless it is currently the weekend, in which case I will say "next weekend."

2
  • 3
    Given the provenance of your two dictionaries, this seems to indicate a U.K./U.S. split. Sep 23 '11 at 21:11
  • I guess it all comes down to: on a Monday do you consider "this" Tuesday to be the present already?
    – MarcH
    Dec 3 '15 at 21:39
2

"next-Tuesday" would be better said as "Tuesday of next week". Thus, the answer to your question would be "on Tuesday".

1

There are several possibilities:

  1. This Tuesday is the Tuesday of the week that we are in. Next Tuesday is the Tuesday of the week we'll be in after this one. This appears to be the most common usage, and makes most sense when you're trying to distinguish between imminent Tuesdays.
  2. They both refer to the same date; this (coming) Tuesday, which is the next Tuesday on the calendar from today.
  3. This Tuesday refers to this (coming) Tuesday, or the Tuesday that comes next on the calendar from today. Next Tuesday refers to the Tuesday after this (coming) Tuesday, or the Second Tuesday on the Calendar from today. This usage seems rare... but is actually what I understood for many years (although I was aware that people didn't always share my views).

Some people switch meanings on Tuesday. For example, they mean (1) on Sunday and Monday, but (2) from Wednesday onwards.

Occasionally, I've heard people talking who have different understanding of the terms, but who happen to come to the same conclusion about the date of an appointment!

And then there's "Last Tuesday"... but let's not get started on that one!

All in all, unless you know that you speak the same "calendar language" as someone else (and it isn't always obvious) your best bet is to:

  1. Use a different way to express yourself, "Tuesday of Next Week", for example.
  2. Use dates, "Tuesday 11th".
  3. Or get out your calendar and point.
0

I know someone who would confuse it even further with the usage "Tuesday first" meaning the first Tuesday after today - where most people would interpret that as meaning a Tuesday which landed on the 1st of a month.

0

I think this question would be better if we spoke of Saturday rather than Tuesday because Saturday happens at (or near, depending on what day you feel starts the week off) the end of the week.

So on Monday the 1st I would say "this Saturday" to refer to the upcoming Saturday (the 6th). I would refer to "next Saturday" in contrast to "this Saturday". This and Next can't refer to the same thing, right? If you and I are catching taxis and I say "I'll take this taxi, you grab the next one" and you say "ok" and then try to climb into my taxi, arguing that this IS the next one... I'd regard you as insane.

The same applies to the days of the week and what I think is meant by "this [something]Day" is this week's [something]Day and "next" [something]Day as next week's something[Day].

5
  • You'd regard them as insane? That's rather disrespectful. "This" implies "here". If "this taxi" means anything, it refers to the taxi that's here. By contrast, there is nothing it could refer to if no taxi is here. Yet that is the situation with days. We are talking about a day which is in the future; it is not here; it is not "this".
    – Rosie F
    Jul 9 at 17:55
  • @RosieF, We are talking about a day that belongs to "this" week or "next" week. "This Saturday" belongs to this week. Next Saturday belongs to next week. It's not about the day's proximity to the current day (as I interpret it). And "this" cab is technically the "next" cab - but any "sane" person (I use that term hyperbolically not as a medical diagnosis) understands that the next taxi is not also this taxi. Jul 14 at 15:43
  • 'We are talking about a day that belongs to "this" week or "next" week. ' And the idea you've stated there is the problem (or part of it). You're thinking of a day and a week it's in. You expect others to think of days the same way. But not everyone thinks of days that way. Someone might think of a day simply as a day -- it might be "next Saturday" purely by virtue of when it is in the future, nothing to do with weeks.
    – Rosie F
    Jul 14 at 16:30
  • @RosieF - I get that not everyone sees it my way - I just think my way is the more consistent with how we generally use "this" and "next" in other contexts (hence my taxi analogy). When I say "this March" the 'this' naturally refers to the year. Though "last March" could easily mean the one that just passed rather than the one from the previous year. So yeah - it's not very clear but people should just learn to read each other's minds so all of this becomes moot. Perhaps they will... next Saturday. Jul 15 at 4:20
  • I like the taxi analogy @YevgenySimkin. Yes, the "next" taxi person is clearly insane.
    – Homer
    Sep 3 at 13:54

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