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“This Wednesday” vs. “Next Wednesday”

Why do we say “this Wednesday” when we are talking about next week? Shouldn’t we agree that “this” modifies an assumed week and that the week in question is the current (Sun or Mon thru Sat or Sun) one? If it’s Friday today, we could say “this coming Wed” or “next Wednesday” but not “this Wednesday,” because if we did that, then “next Wednesday” would either mean Wednesday of the week after next, strictly speaking, or given ambiguity could mean the very same day as was indicated by “this Wednesday.”

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Yes strictly speaking you would say "this coming Wednesday" for future events, and "this past Wednesday" for events in the past - but in most situations "future" and "past" tend to be omitted, as the timeline is implied by the context.
I went to the gym this Wednesday.
I will go to the gym this Wedneday.

Ing September 9, 2011, 11:46am

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Must be a British thing ... I only use "this + day" to reference the current week.

For the NEXT week, I use NEXT + day.

Otherwise, there would be confusion:

On Monday a person asks: When is he coming?
Answer: He's coming this Wednesday. ... If you do not say NEXT Wednesday, then you clearly, to me, mean the Wednesday of the current week!

You can also use "on".

He's coming on Wednesday. ... Again, clearly meaning the Wednesday of the current week.

I went to the gym on Wednesday.
I'm going to the gym on Wednesday.
I went to the gym this past Wednesday. (I wouldn't ever leave out the "past" modifier" with "this". It sounds awkward without it).
I'm going to the gym next Wednesday.

AnWulf September 11, 2011, 5:44am

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In the Southern US, I often hear people say "Tuesday week" to indicate that the event is not the coming Tuesday, but the one after.
E.g. :
"I'm leaving for Vicksburg Thursday week, and I need someone to feed my crickets."

The Entomophagist September 23, 2011, 11:03am

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@Entomophagist ... Very true, Tuesday week means "a week from Tuesday" in Suthren!

AnWulf September 27, 2011, 1:52am

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To me speaking BrE the following seems normal:

Th: "next Wednesday"
Fr: "next Wednesday"
Sa: "next Wednesday" / "this Wednesday (coming)"
Su: "this Wednesday"
Mo: "this Wednesday"
Tu: "tomorrow" / "tomorrow, Wednesday"
We: "today"

And for me "Wednesday week" means the Wednesday after the Wednesday following the day on which I am speaking :-)

Josef Essberger November 5, 2011, 11:52am

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I agree with Josef.

I might also use 'this Wednesday' to mean the one just past, as opposed to 'last Wednesday' which would be the one before.

Percy October 19, 2012, 12:28pm

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This is a very complicated subject and requires some date math skills or a calendar or an assistant.

Most civilian calendars start the week on Sunday. God calls it the last day of the week but I call it the first day I had to start dealing with this world she made. But I digress.

The term "this Wednesday" always means the very next occurrence of the day. The term "next Wednesday" always means two Wednesdays out.

So on:

Monday the 1st "this Wednesday" means Wednesday the 3rd.
Monday the 1st "next Wednesday" means Wednesday the 10th.
Thursday day the 4th "this Wednesday" means Wednesday the 10th.
Thursday day the 4th "next Wednesday" means Wednesday the 17th.

To avoid all of this hassle I just tell people I want it now damn-it!

I was going to explain this in Yiddish but I don't know Yiddish.

Howard Taylor September 23, 2015, 4:54pm

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"How about never? Does never work for you?" Quote, possibly inexact, from a cartoon in, I think, The New Yorker.

I agree about the structure you laid out Howard, on a mathematical calendrical level. However, we have to allow for fuzzy logic. I think many people have an understood "of next week" in the phrase "next Wednesday," especially if it's Monday or Tuesday.

Thanks for not being a pain in the Yiddish.

kellyjohnj September 24, 2015, 1:59pm

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When somebody makes an arrangement to meet, I often need to ask them for the day of the month to clarify which day they mean. If it is Friday and somebody says to meet "this Wednesday", that to me is nonsense because "this Wednesday" has gone two days ago. If they say "next Wednesday", that is clearer but still I would want confirmation of the actual day of the month, say "Wednesday the seventeenth".

If it is Monday and somebody says "this Wednesday", I would assume they mean in two days' time, but if they say "next Wednesday", I would assume they mean in nine days' time.

I still find both terms inexact and irritating.

Jane2765 October 8, 2015, 11:10am

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The main point is "next Wednesday" is ambigous; it just comes down to who is using it. If someone does use it, one needs to clarify: "this Wednesday" or "Wednesday week" ?

jayles the unwoven October 8, 2015, 8:31pm

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Yes, there's occasional ambiguity, but that happens in language: "I met a funny man man the other day." "Funny ha-ha or funny peculiar?"In any case, it's usually used in a spoken context and easily resolved - "Do you mean this coming Wednesday or the one after?"

Warsaw Will October 13, 2015, 10:12am

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It could of course be argued that there are occasions when "this Wednesday" and "next Wednesday" might refer to the same day.
However, in my experience "this Wednesday" refers to the Wednesday in the current week regardless of whether it has yet to come or has in fact passed, "next Wednesday" refers to the Wednesday of the coming week, and "last Wednesday" refers to the Wednesday of the previous week.

Hairy Scot October 13, 2015, 6:20pm

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Fascinating...because I had always assumed that "this" implied the future. Therefore, on Thursday the 4th, "this Wednesday" would mean the one immediately coming up...as in the 10th, and "next Wednesday" would be the 17th. What to do about the 3rd? That's *yesterday*...and Tuesday the 2nd would be "two days ago."

Furthermore, past and present tense verbs could clarify things. "I *went* on Wednesday" would imply the most recent Wednesday in the past (but you probably wouldn't use it if Wednesday was the day before, since you would just use "yesterday"), while "I went *last* Wednesday" is a little stickier, since it could imply either the Wednesday before the one immediately past or the most recent Wednesday in the past that's more than just a few days out.

Keith Gatling February 20, 2016, 3:39am

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Well, I don't get the point. When you speak about the next train, it means the train which arrives in the station... "Will you take the next train ?" - "yes by if I am late I will take the one after".
When you ask for scheduled time of the next train to go to London, there is no confusion, this is the closest in time that you are looking for, why is there a confusion when you speak about days ?

GGREGG March 10, 2016, 5:53am

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USA, UK, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, etc… Why not take an advanced English grammar teacher from each of those countries, lock them up in a room, and tell them the only way to unlock that door is to agree on this topic?

Obviously, as what's correct differs vastly between these countries, such a move should hopefully result in proper documentation outlining not only what's correct in each country, but also details how the grammar on this differs between the countries.

Wheelye April 13, 2016, 7:44pm

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@Wheelye With so much international emailing, it is just a matter of avoiding ambiguity. In the same way it is better to avoid ambiguous date formats such as 03/04/2016 and always to spell out the month: March 4, 2016 or 4th March 2016. Similarly if one simply says "this Wednesday" or "Wednesday week" or in an email adds the day as "Wed 12th", then all is clear.

jayles the unwoven April 13, 2016, 9:28pm

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