When exactly is 'next Monday'?

Torsten’s post about “five of” made me think of another confusing expression: next, when it precedes the name of a day.

If it is Sunday, and you say “next Monday”, it does not mean tomorrow, but two Mondays from now.
If it is Saturday, and you say “next Monday”, it likewise probably means two Mondays from now.

If it is Tuesday, and you say “next Monday” it really means the next Monday that’s coming up.
It’s the same if you say it on Wednesday or Thursday, but if you say it on Friday, it’s not always clear whether you mean the next Monday coming up, or the following Monday.

This is very clear in the minds of native English speakers, but my mother used to throw everything haywire by saying “next Monday”, etc., even on Saturday or Sunday. In other words, she often used “next” for days that were too close. I’d have to ask, “Do you mean this coming Monday or the following Monday?!” It drove me crazy.

My mother was a native English speaker – most people would say an impeccable native speaker – but I think this problem was one little vestige of her parents’ native language.


Really? I think your mother was indeed a typical native English speaker-- this problem of “when is ‘next’ Tuesday? and when was ‘last’ Tuesday?” occurs over and over, and not just among ESLs/EFLs but also between ENLs, and among those great Unwashed who are not associated with language education in any way. Confirmation dialogue seems to occur as often as not: ‘You mean the day after tomorrow?’; ‘Do you mean the 14th or the 21st?’

I have seen long, sometimes acerbic, discussions between teachers that cannot agree on where ‘the line’ in the week exists that next and last are absolutely unequivocal.

Nobody said the language is perfect. There are lots of gaps-- homophones, contractions, etc, that require the interlocutors to check each other’s utterances to ensure that they are on the right wavelength.

Now that you say so, Mister Micawber, I see you’re right. The line is kind of fuzzy. I guess the problem was that my mother used to use “next” with days that were clearly on the wrong side of the line, not just disputably on the wrong side of the line.

Hello all,
that’s a very interesting observation Jamie.
Slightly off-topic but along the same lines, using “this”,
we can also say
“What did you do this weekend?” referring to the one just gone and

“What are you going to do this weekend” for the next one.

Hi jennipa

First of all, welcome!

Those two sentences are a bit odd, aren’t they? :lol: But at least they’re a little easier to sort out than Jamie’s “next” sentences. I agree with MM. People seem to have differing interpretations as to where the “line” for next and last might be. Clarification is very often necessary.

So, what about the word until? If someone says they’ll “be out of the office until the 14th”, will the person be in the office on the 14th or not? I’ve heard lots of heated discussion about that one, too. :lol:


The confusion can also arise in other languages, as with terms like ‘next Monday’ (questions like Jamie’s “Do you mean this coming Monday or the following Monday?” are almost threadbare from so much use!).

Regarding ‘until + date’, to be on the safe side, I usually add ‘inclusive’ – such a handy little word!

Most people use friendlier language for that. They say, “I’m out of the office and will be back on [date].”


So, is that, like, they’ll be back at 9 am, the start of that day, and you can call them first thing in the morning? Or, they’ll be back sometime-- at least by the end of the day-- with just time to skim through their accumulated emails?

It means they’ll be there at the start of the business day – if the message is on their business phone.

Thanks for clarifying that, Jamie.

I often recommend that my students use the “back on [date]” format, but Mr. Mic does make a good point there. :lol:
In Germany, where it’s not terribly unusual for someone to be on vacation for 4 weeks at a time (and sometimes longer), American based companies sometimes recommend that their vacationing German employees avoid giving a return date altogether so that their American counterparts don’t become miffed. :lol:



Jamie, you have a way of camouflaging statements that makes them even blunter :lol: !

Do you mean to say that in America you hardly ever say or write: from + date until + date inclusive?

Example: The school will be closed from (date) to (date) inclusive.

I like that expression! Aren’t you getting all British on us :slight_smile: !

Hi Conchita,

You said:

about miffed. I like it,too. It’s so much nicer than other expressions used nowadays indicating that you you are out of sorts/out of humour/fed up. It’s very P G Wodehouse (whose literary skills I can’t extol enough). And talking of the maestro it has suggestions of being disgruntled and PGW created another word out of that indicating you are decidedly not miffed and that was gruntled. It’s a wonderful thing to sense that gruntled feeling.


Of course you can say and write it, but it sounds very official and gives a very impersonal tone to the statement. It can make one sound a little bit like an angry math teacher. That’s the feeling I get from it, anyway.

Of course, if you write it in an official statement, that’s perfectly okay, but it just doesn’t sound friendly when you say it. It’s similar to this: If you went to the YMCA and saw a sign that said, “All members must swipe their membership cards before entering the facility,” that would strike you as normal. But if you walked in and forgot to swipe your card, would you like it if the clerk at the desk called behind you, “All members must swipe their membership cards before entering the facility”? No. It sounds unfriendly. He should say, “Uh, ma’am? I think you forgot to swipe your card.”

What’s British about it? North Americans use that expression all the time. It predates most of the English settlement of the continent, so it probably came here with the settlers.


Hi Conchita

Jamie’s right, “miffed” isn’t a word that is unknown or not used in the US. But, seeing as I come from the US East Coast, if people say my choice of words sounds British, I’m going to end up with a complex that using words like “miffed” might sound East Coast elitist. It might then become necessary for me to stick to alternative vocabulary such as [size=75]“pissed off”[/size] * … :lol: 8) :lol:


*[size=75]This post is should not be taken too seriously.[/size] :wink:

Amy, you’re not the kind of person I’m talking about.

I can’t picture you saying something like, “My boyfriend wanted to do his IT graduate work at UMass, because he said he’d have better facilities and instructors there. But I put a stop to THAT! There’s no way MY boyfriend is going to a [color=red]STATE SCHOOL!”

That’s the kind of person I’m talking about.

Hi Jamie

I understood what you meant and know exactly what kind of person you’re referring to. But the temptation to poke a little fun at the “East Coast elitist” idea was simply too great. There was just this knee-jerk reaction to stick up for the “home team”… :smiley:


If I were from the East Coast, I would NEVER call these people “my team”! :smiley:

I wouldn’t either. I was referring generally to the people from the East Coast area as my “home team”. :roll:

Now, stop being difficult. :lol:

The word ‘inclusive’ may seem a bit formal. Now, as to make you sound unfriendly or like an angry math teacher, you’ll allow me to have my doubts! I agree, though, that it is used more in business or administrative English than in informal, everyday conversation. Nobody has claimed otherwise.

Your swipe card example was good! I think we all agree that spoken and signpost English are two different languages.

I wonder why it sounds more British than American to me. Funny, isn’t it?

This link has an interesting article on the term ‘miffed’: