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

AnWulf September 27, 2011, 1:52am

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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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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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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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