Thursday, December 29, 2011

This or Next? Which is it? by DL Larson

Have you ever been in a conversation that left you more confused than usual? Consider the following ...
"I'll see you next Saturday, then," said John.
"I thought we were meeting this Saturday the 31st," Rachel replied.
"That is the next Saturday on the calendar."
"Next Saturday would be January 7th."
"Don't be silly, we'd miss the new year party. I'll see you next Saturday."
"We're talking about this week? Right?"
"Of course."
"Good. I'll see you Saturday."
"That's right, next Saturday!"

You may think this is silly or irrelevant, but I can tell you my husband and I have had this on-going confusion for nearly forty years. I've tried to set him straight many times, but some things one just can't fix.

Webster doesn't help us much either. The definition of NEXT: coming just before or just after; nearest or closest/ the next person in line, the next room; next Monday.
adv. 1. in the nearest place, time, etc. She sits next to me in school. 2. at the first chance after this/ Please wait on me next. What should I do next?
And then Webster describes THIS:the person or thing mentioned or understood/This is Juan. This tastes good./ 2. being the person or thing that is present or nearer. This house is newer than that one.

Not much help from the dictionary. The Elements of Style doesn't discuss the problem, nor does my trusty handbook on Errors in English. But my old English professor talked about it in her list of things to remember. She called them her nuggets of gold.

When talking about time ~ the current week a person is in is called "This week," therefore next is not needed. One could say "I'll see you this Friday," or "I'll see you Friday." The understanding of the immediate upcoming Friday is understood. Next is not needed. Next is best left to standing in line, waiting ones turn, or when discussing the future past the present week one is in. Next week would mean the week beyond the one one is in presently. "I'll see you next week," means the week following the one a person is in. Not this week, but next week.

I feel so much better now that we cleared the confusion over this and next. This weekend we will celebrate the end of this year and welcome in the next one! Right?

Anyway, Happy New Year!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

5 comments:

KML said...

OK. So when you write that Webster isn't much help, you really mean that he's not much help in supporting your side of the discussion! And, next week is the next week on the calender. Next Friday is the next Friday on the calender. And you of all people should know that it will take much longer than 40 years to train your man! I'm looking forward to it!

Deb Larson said...

Oh Boy! And so it continues ...

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Morgan Mandel said...

Yes, people do need to be careful with time, especially when referring to it in books! Things can get really messed up, if you don't.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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