Is it this weekend or next weekend?
January 25, 2010 5:18 AM   Subscribe

Today is Monday, Jan. 25. What are the dates of next weekend?

I was complaining that some event should take place on Jan. 31. I said I wish it would take place next weekend instead of the weekend after. My wife said it is taking place next weekend, that Jan.31 is this weekend. Any comments one way or the other?
posted by rheumy_the_dwarf to Writing & Language (50 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I agree with your wife. This weekend is the nearest one, next weekend is the one after.
posted by jedrek at 5:20 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I agree with your wife.
posted by Shoggoth at 5:20 AM on January 25, 2010

I agree with your wife. If I'm making plans for Jan 31/Feb 1, that's happening this weekend. Next weekend is Feb 6-7.
posted by donajo at 5:21 AM on January 25, 2010

I agree with your wife. And I heartily disagree with whoever comes in here and says "oxt" weekend or somesuch.
posted by Grither at 5:24 AM on January 25, 2010

When does this (working) week end? This weekend, Saturday.

Well, Friday at noon when I head to the bar.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:25 AM on January 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

I'm ambivalent because it is ambiguous. You'll get a bunch of people saying one way or another, and what if it was Sunday night, what then? So just find a different way to say it, because who the hell wants to argue about whether "this" or "next" refers to the immediately approaching Saturday & Sunday?

I would rather the event was a week away, rather than a fortnight hence, and look, taking advantage of the rare opportunity to use the word hence.

Of course, if you have pedants in your household like I do, they will take the opportunity then to complain that it's only 4 or 5 days away, not a week, and this then, is my cue to pun because they don't like that. You will have to find your own way to get back at yours.
posted by b33j at 5:25 AM on January 25, 2010 [4 favorites]

I technically agree with your wife, but I've found using 'this weekend' when it's early in the week, like Monday or Tuesday, confuses people fairly often. I'll often just say "on Saturday" or "on the weekend" or something over-explainy like "this coming weekend" to compensate. So I think there's some general uncertainty.
posted by nicoleincanada at 5:26 AM on January 25, 2010 [6 favorites]

Well, this very issue caused a problem in my family this past weekend (Jan 23-24). On Thursday Jan 22nd, my wife told me we had a social obligation "next Saturday". I assumed that meant Jan 30-31 not 23-24. I made alternative plans for the 23rd.

According to my wife, on a Thursday, if you say "next weekend" it means the weekend in two days as it is the next weekend. I thought that would be "this weekend".

I can say with authority that you and I are wrong as my wife is always right.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:26 AM on January 25, 2010

I would interpret 'this weekend' as being the closest weekend to now, whether in the past or future, but taking context into account.
posted by alexei at 5:27 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Next weekend" always occurs after "this weekend". It never occurs before it. Since "this weekend" is never in the past, that means that "next weekend" will occur a week after the "this [forthcoming] weekend." Anybody who thinks that "next weekend" is less than a week away is forgetting that "this weekend" exists.
posted by majick at 5:30 AM on January 25, 2010 [11 favorites]

This is a gray area. I usually use "this weekend" to refer to the next upcoming weekend, but when I hear it used on a Monday I assume it was the previous weekend (the 23/24). My conversations usually go "What'd you do this weekend?" "We went to a movie. Next weekend we're going to go hiking." But since that's usually a Monday-only conversation, "this weekend" usually refers to the next upcoming one.

I try to avoid this weirdness all together by just labeling it "the upcoming weekend."
posted by lilac girl at 5:31 AM on January 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm with lilac girl--I think "next weekend" is synonymous with "this weekend" on, say, Monday or Tuesday. By Wednesday, "next weekend" means the weekend after "this weekend."
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:40 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, we need some constructive ambiguity here. I agree with alexei--"this weekend" is (for me) the closest weekend to now. Which means that today, if I'm talking about "this weekend", I will mean the two days that have just gone by, and "next weekend" will mean Sat 30/Sun 31. But come the end of the week--Thursday, Friday--"this weekend" will mean Sat 30/Sun 31, I'll be using "last weekend" to mean the two days that have just gone by, and "next weekend" will mean 6/7 Feb.

I'm being descriptive rather than prescriptive here, obviously, and it's always a good idea to specify if there's a chance of confusion/marital disharmony. Sensible words from lilac girl.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 5:42 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another vote for "slightly ambiguous." "This weekend" and "next weekend" can seem to refer to the same weekend depending on local usage and how close the said weekend is. If it seems unclear to me, I say something like "this coming weekend" or "the weekend of next week" or use the dates to clarify. But then, I just missed a meeting because an ambiguous email didn't clarify for me that the meeting was moved back 25 hours not 1 hour.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:43 AM on January 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

I came in to say exactly what nicoleincanada said. And, as an interesting datapoint given the potential regionalisms that could crop up, I am also in Canada.
posted by carmen at 5:45 AM on January 25, 2010

It's ambiguous. The weekend of January 31st is both this weekend and next weekend.

On Mondays, "this weekend" is still often used to refer to the previous weekend, as in "Hey, did you do anything fun this weekend?"
posted by muddgirl at 5:45 AM on January 25, 2010 [5 favorites]

Common parlance is that next weekend means the one after this coming weekend. But it is really ambiguous. I agree with nicoleincanada and muddgirl, as a fellow Canadian, that if you say "next weekend" on Monday or Tuesday, it seems to imply "this weekend". "Next weekend" simply sounds far away and "this weekend" sounds far enough away on Monday or Tuesday to count as a "Next Weekend". Nobody ever said English made any sense.
posted by molecicco at 5:51 AM on January 25, 2010

"this weekend" can refer to 1/23-24 or 1/30-31, but it will be immediately obvious by which tense is used in the sentence:
"This weekend I will run." 1/30-31
"This weekend I ran." 1/23-24
"Next weekend I will run." 2/6-7
Doesn't matter which day of the week it currently is.
posted by Grither at 5:53 AM on January 25, 2010 [4 favorites]

Once the previous weekend has passed, it is no longer "this weekend." It can be "last weekend" or "this passed weekend". It's a temporal thing, you can never travel back in time but you can go forward.
posted by JJ86 at 5:56 AM on January 25, 2010

To summarise most of the above, the rules appear to be this:

'This weekend', either means the weekend you're currently in, the weekend just finished, or the weekend coming up; context usually allows you to work out which it is.

'Next weekend' is the weekend after the weekend you're currently in, or the one after the weekend coming up.

There do seem to be people who use the two synonymously, but they appear to be a minority. I've noticed that people often clarify their meaning somewhat if a clear understanding is important - they say things like 'This weekend coming up', or 'This weekend just gone', or 'The weekend of the 30th'.

To add to the confusion, I've heard people use 'the weekend after next' synonymously with 'next weekend'. If there were any logic to it, 'the weekend after next' should be nearly three weeks away.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 5:56 AM on January 25, 2010

This is a classic argument in the Arkham household. I agree with your wife, but Mr. Arkham is on your side. (I wonder how this breaks down over gender?)
posted by JoanArkham at 5:57 AM on January 25, 2010

I agree that based on today, this weekend is Jan. 30-31, while next weekend is Feb. 6-7... even though Jan 30-31 is logically "the next weekend" on the calendar.

This an old, longstanding ambiguity in English that's been discussed in a bazillion places since, presumably, the dawn of the calendar. For most people, it boils down that these two things are not equivalent:

A: "Let's meet on the next Wednesday after today."
B: "Let's meet next Wednesday."

Also, this was a Seinfeld episode.
posted by rokusan at 5:58 AM on January 25, 2010

Easy way to be clear: "this coming weekend."
posted by billysumday at 6:05 AM on January 25, 2010

It is both "this" weekend and "next weekend" (because it is the next weekend you will encounter). I use and hear it both ways.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:06 AM on January 25, 2010

This weekend is the closest weekend. "What did you do this weekend, Bob?" referring to the Sat and Sun that just passed makes total sense. So does "What are you going to do this weekend, Bob?" when it refers to the coming Sat and Sun.

But on days when it would be confusing, I like the construction "This past" and "This coming." "What did you do this past weekend, Bob?" "What are you doing this coming weekend, Bob?"

Next weekend is always the weekend after this (coming) weekend. Because it can get confusing, it's an easy way to clarify. "So what are you doing this coming weekend, Bob? And next weekend?"
posted by headspace at 6:08 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm going to side with the people who are declaring it ambiguous. I'm almost always confused by the use of 'next weekend' unless it's clear from other context whether it refers to the weekend immediately following today or the one after. The earlier in the week it is, the more likely it is to refer to the immediately following weekend.

I always find myself deliberately clarifying the use of 'next weekend' precisely to avoid this sort of problem.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:15 AM on January 25, 2010

Once the previous weekend has passed, it is no longer "this weekend."


I've really needed some me-time lately, so this weekend I went skiing.
posted by rokusan at 6:34 AM on January 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

On January 25th, "this weekend" is begins January 31st.

January 31st ceased to be called "next weekend" on Sunday the 24th.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:42 AM on January 25, 2010

"This weekend" depends on context:
"Did you do anything interesting this weekend?" Since the speaker is using the past tense, it's obvious that they're talking about the weekend that just ended.
"Have any plans this weekend?" or "Will you be free this Saturday" Using present/future tense, so it's obvious that the speaker means this coming weekend (i.e. less than 5 days away).

"Next weekend" will always need clarification, because some use it for the coming weekend and some use it for the following weekend.

I would say that since there is an unambiguous term for the coming weekend (present/future tense plus "this weekend") that "next weekend" should be reserved for the weekend after this coming weekend. Why create an ambiguity if you don't need to?

This weekend --> this past weekend or this coming weekend, depending on verb conjugation
Next weekend --> use exclusively for the weekend after this coming weekend
posted by melissasaurus at 6:42 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Chiming in as a data point:

On a Monday, as someone said upthread, "this weekend" mostly means the weekend just past, as in "What did you do this weekend?" If someone said to me today "What are you doing this weekend?" it would seem odd, and would probably keep sounding odd to me until, say, Wednesday.

I think that today, I would tend to say "this coming weekend" for the weekend that is coming.

If someone said, "next weekend" to me, it would suggest the weekend of the 29th. This would keep being true until the 29th becomes "this weekend," round about Wednesday afternoon.
posted by not that girl at 6:49 AM on January 25, 2010

January 31 is next weekend until, like, January 28. When the upcoming weekend is still five days away, it cannot be called this weekend.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:51 AM on January 25, 2010

I'm intrigued that I'm in the vast minority here. For me, "this weekend", "next weekend", "this coming weekend", and "this next weekend" all referred to the upcoming weekend, the 31st. For the following weekend, it'd always be "the weekend after next".

On thinking about it, though, probably 80% of the time I'll say, "the weekend of the 30th."
posted by themissy at 6:51 AM on January 25, 2010

January 31st ceased to be called "next weekend" on Sunday the 24th.

I disagree with this, too. Imagine it's Sunday the 24th.

"Man, this weekend sucks. Let's do something more fun next weekend."
posted by rokusan at 6:59 AM on January 25, 2010

Grey area. I usually overcome it by saying "this coming weekend".
posted by gaspode at 7:16 AM on January 25, 2010

I've seen calendars published in two formats: (1) Sunday through Saturday, which leaves the issue ambiguous because each weekend is 'split' across two lines (each week/line includes a Sunday from one weekend and a Saturday from the following weekend); and (2) Monday through Sunday, which agrees with your wife—that is to say, for every MTWTFSS set, that week's "this weekend" is the tail-end SS pairing.

If somebody publishes a SSMTWTF calendar, that would agree with you. I've never seen one.
posted by cribcage at 7:16 AM on January 25, 2010

For me, Wednesday is like a tipping point. So today, Monday, I would say "What did you do this weekend? I bought a new TV this weekend. I went for a walk this weekend. My roommate's party was this weekend." -- all of these things happened in the past 3 days, and today I would say "My cousin is having her wedding shower next weekend," as in the Saturday the 30th.

Sometime midweek, I will tell you that I bought a new TV last weekend, and that my cousin's wedding shower is this weekend.

So I guess to me, it just depends which weekend is closer to the current day. But I have been in the same situation where someone has said "next weekend" or "this weekend" and I just had to clarify the date, because this thread has show that everyone has their own opinion about this/next weekend ;). My boyfriend is particularly bad about remembering social engagements, so I guess I'm used to double checking dates with him.
posted by sararah at 7:24 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another vote for ambiguous. But IMO 30-31st are the dates of next weekend.

On Monday 'this weekend' almost always refers to the previous weekend IME but context makes it clear which weekend is being referred to. If on a Monday the 'this weekend' being referred to was clearly in the future then 'this weekend' and 'next weekend' refer to the same weekend. On Thursday/Friday 'next weekend' would almost always refer to the weekend after 'this weekend', again, that's something that is usually clear by context. IMO, never use 'next weekend' on a Wednesday, its too ambiguous.
posted by missmagenta at 7:41 AM on January 25, 2010

to me, "this weekend" is always in the future, so it'd be 1/30-1/31.

I usually clarify by saying "this upcoming weekend" to mean 1/30-1/31 and "this past weekend" to mean 1/23-1/24.
posted by Lucinda at 7:42 AM on January 25, 2010

Ambiguous as hell. There is no consensus among my friends or clients re "this", "this coming" or "next" for weekends. All I can do is always add in or ask about the dates for clarity.
posted by maudlin at 7:49 AM on January 25, 2010

My wife and I have had this same disagreement. She agrees with your wife. I agree with you. Irritatingly there are perfectly valid justifications for both points of view:

To me the weekend is a separate entity from the week. Therefore "this weekend" is only used if said weekend is currently happening. "Next weekend" is the next weekend that is going to occur (1/30-1/31).

To her the weekend is considered part of the week, therefore "this weekend" means the end of the current week (1/30-1/31), and "next weekend" means the end of the following week.

People whose usage changes sometime midweek are just wrong.
posted by ook at 8:08 AM on January 25, 2010

It doesn't seem to me that 'next weekend' can reasonably mean 'the next but one'.
posted by Phanx at 8:19 AM on January 25, 2010

Agreeing with the sentiment 'Why create ambiguity if you don't have to?'

Instead of saying '"What did you do this weekend?', better to say '"What did you do this past weekend?' and eliminate that ambiguous usage for the phrase.

Call 'the weekend that has just passed' what it is: This past weekend.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:25 AM on January 25, 2010

I usually avoid the this/next problem by saying "...this coming weekend" or "not this coming weekend, but the next weekend."
posted by electroboy at 8:39 AM on January 25, 2010

It's ambiguous. The weekend of January 31st is both this weekend and next weekend.

This is my perspective. But because I know this is a thing for some people, I'm always crystal clear which dates I'm talking about when making plans with someone.
posted by jessamyn at 9:07 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is very simple:

On Mondays, "next weekend" always means the coming weekend- because Monday is still psychologically part of the weekend. That's why people say "what did you do this weekend' when they want to know what you did the two or three days before.

On Tuesdays through Fridays, "next weekend" always means the weekend after the coming weekend.

It's all about not being pedantic. That way everyone is on the same page.
posted by Zambrano at 9:39 AM on January 25, 2010

This question: "What did you do this weekend?"
can never, in any circumstance, mean the coming weekend (1/30-31 in our case). It is clearly in the past tense, so it can only refer to one weekend, the one that has passed (1/23-24 in our case) No need to clarify, Hardcore Poser.
posted by Grither at 10:21 AM on January 25, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, all. I enjoyed reading everything. I knew I wouldn't get a definitive answer, this being English. Are there similar problems in other languages? I imagine there are or at least can be.
posted by rheumy_the_dwarf at 11:22 AM on January 25, 2010

Not only do I agree with your wife, you do too. You used her terms in the title for this post.
posted by chairface at 11:45 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Filling in a bit from a linguist's perspective (and bear with me a bit because initially this is going to seem entirely unrelated): For me, one of the fascinating aspects of studying linguistics is discovering how universal some features are. We all tend to focus on the differences between various human languages, but there are indicators that underlyingly, they are all very similar. One of the strongest pieces of evidence for this claim is the fact that there are universals in how children acquire language. At the very least, we can use these universals to discriminate between various subfields of language. Here's an example that is relevant to the current topic of discussion in this thread. For a while, children are amazingly fast acquirers of semantics. This means that they are adding many words a day, sometimes even an hour, to their vocabulary. But what they are adding is a kind of 'literal' meaning that although could be valid a 'dictionary' definition, might be very different from how an adult speaker would tend to use the same word. During the fastest stage of vocabulary expansion, children are excellent at adding all sorts of names for objects they come across, and employ rather sophisticated algorithms to this process that reduce the complexity of the task before them (e.g. assuming there is a one-one correspondence between words and meanings, etc.). This is how they acquire the semantics of their language. But they do not start out with any substantial knowledge of the pragmatics of their language. Pragmatics refers to the way that adult speakers can derive additional or alternate "non dictionary" meanings from utterances (like how adults understand sarcasm, and how they know that a letter of recommendation for graduate school that states that the student has excellent handwriting is in fact a negative letter, even though it contains nothing negative per se). It also refers to the contextually-salient properties of the discourse that allow us to use terms like "this" and "that", which linguists call deictic terms, meaning that the interpretation of these terms requires some contribution from the context.

Kids, at least at the beginning of their conversant life, tend to be bad at this kind of referential term. How is it that I know, as an adult, that an ant twenty feet away from me is "that ant" but a building which might be the same twenty feet away is "this building"? How is it that if I read a book that begins "A man walked onto the stage. A man clapped." I know that there are two men involved? This knowledge, or really ability, is acquired at a different stage than the acquisition of the vocabulary. And because it is a distinct part of linguistic competence, it is not enough to just define the deictic terms the way we might go about defining a term like "gold" or "tiger". We need to establish what it is about the context that allows us to determine how those terms refer. So I guess what I'm saying is that because "this" and "next" (and "here" and "then" and "him"...) are deictic terms, we're never going to have as satisfying a definition of when they are properly used as we might for terms like "prime number" or "bicycle".

Ok, it might be time for a drastic claim: I can use the phrase "this weekend" to refer to a weekend five years ago. Don't believe me? All I need to do is give you a plausible context, and I'm sure most of you will agree with me. Imagine we're in my living room, looking through the photo albums I've made with photos of every weekend we've spent together for the last ten years. As we look through the photos, we talk about the fun we've had, and reminisce about the events of the various weekends. I could very easily say, while pointing at one of the photos, "Oh, remember this weekend? It was so fantastic!" and both of us would know that the weekend I was referring to, and we would both know that it was a weekend from five years ago. Similarly, we could be trying to plan a future weekend together, and each of us has our calendar out, and I suggest a weekend three months from now, and you say that it won't work for you, "but what about the next weekend?" So "next weekend" is not referring to the upcoming weekend, but rather to a weekend further in the future.

I fear I might be seen as having muddied the waters. I'm not sure if what I've written has helped at all, but what I'm proposing is that with respect to deictic terms, the waters are really quite cloudy to begin with, and that context plays a much larger role in our communication than we might be willing to initially accept. So each of you is definitely correct, in the right context, because these terms don't have the kind of "meaning" that is as clear-cut as we might like. I might actually believe that no terms in natural language do, but that is another story altogether, and besides, I'd like to get tenure someday...
posted by tractorfeed at 2:45 PM on January 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

It also varies geographically. You may feel comfortable with what you mean in your region, but in another state people may take it differently.
posted by exphysicist345 at 6:50 PM on January 25, 2010

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