What does "pushed back" & "next week" REALLY mean?

I subscribe to The Word Guy from ArcaMax.com.  Last week he was talking about how there is a problem with communication when you talk about moving a meeting time.  Some say they moved the meeting back when they mean back in time and some say it when they mean they moved the meeting back, meaning for a later date.   So to ensure that your listeners understand how you mean it, The Word Guy suggests that you just say that the meeting will be held a month later (or earlier).  With so much miscommunication, I suggest you clarify it even further by saying, THE MEETING IS AT 8AM ON FRIDAY JUNE 3, 2011.  ;D There's a similar problem with saying "next week" or "next Thursday."  It's Tuesday afternoon and you're talking to your friend who says,  "Come over next Thursday and bring the kids."  Does she mean to invite you for not this coming Thursday, but the following Thursday?  Or does she really mean next?  The very next Thursday is two days from now.  But isn't it odd for someone to call two days from now "next Thursday?"  Wouldn't she simply say, "Come over on Thursday?"  So perhaps she means the following Thursday. So you say something brilliant like, "You mean next Thursday?"  And she wonders if you mean this Thursday or the following Thursday so she says, "Well, this next Thursday."  And you still don't know what Thursday she's talking about. You: "So this Thursday?" Her: "No next Thursday." You: "The following Thursday, then?" Her: "Yes, well, the Thursday after this next Thursday." You: "So it is the following Thursday." "COME OVER AT NOON ON THURSDAY, JULY 29TH, IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 2010. " Have you ever had a frustrating conversation where you weren't sure when the meeting was?  Come share!


  • cindy holman

    Yes!! This has happened to me many times! You do have to be VERY specific with some people – next means this to some and this means next to others – so CONFUSING!!! I agree with spelling it out VERY SLOWLY AND CLEARLY!!

  • Terri McLaughlin

    I had to laugh at this one and I, too, have been in a similar conversation as you show above.
    I’ve even founnd it difficult to use the date because people don’t know the dates in the future. My SIL is clueless about dates. She has no clue what today’s date is, let alone the date for “next thursday.”

    In similar conversations with her, I’ve resorted to saying “Thursday, as in 2 days from now or Thursday as in 9 days from now?”

    Its funny how everyone defines it differently and how some really can’t define it any other way. :)

  • jojosblog

    Yup, Carla. It’s almost never a bad idea to be too specific. lol

    Tina, it’s especially funny when your brain is fried and you can’t think of how else to put it. You go back and forth saying the same things and still have no idea when you’re getting together. lol

  • Tina

    My husband and I have these conversations all the time. It’s very clear to the him and can be very trying to pull the correct date out of him. I just laughed when I read your conversation above. It sounded very familiar.

  • Carla

    I subscribe to The Word Guy, too. I read this and it really made me think. Dates are so easy to confuse as it is, let alone with nebulous expressions like “next Thursday” factored in. LOL When I say “next Thursday,” I always mean the following week no matter which day I say it. Others don’t. So, yes, I have had many missed meetings and appointments due to this type of mix-up, as I always assume my meaning, which doesn’t always agree with the other person’s. Actually, JoJo, I like your solution by giving the time, day, date, year. It sure clarifies things. :) Going to give it a go next time I have to schedule something!

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