It was Friday 20 May 05 when someone asked a friend's son when his first semester exams end. The boy replied, "Next Tuesday." Another boy chipped in, "So your last paper is on 24 May?". The first boy replied, "No, 31 May". "But you said next Tuesday" almost everyone chorussed. The first boy insisted, "Yes, I didn't say this Tuesday". Someone then commented, "This week hasn't passed, so this Tuesday would mean 3 days ago." So the argument continued. Who is correct and who is wrong? What is the correct meaning of "next" in this case?
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There is no 'correct' meaning for 'next' here. This confusion commonly arises and demands clarification in conversations such as yours.

Though it seems your majority in this case assumed the one, the speaker may well have been thinking of the other, and it has more to do with proximity (Friday is reasonably close to the succeeding Tuesday) than it does with the concept of a week beginning on Monday (or Sunday).
Ha yes lots of confusion abounds regarding next Tuesday, this Tuesday, or Tuesday week! Even natives get confused sometimes as there doesn't seem to be a definitive rule - everyone just thinks they are right and other people are wrong!
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Same with expressions of time. My husband (Scottish) always says things like "I'll be home back of 7" I still don't know what time that is.[O] [:^)]
Just want to point out that "Tuesday week" is strictly British - you'll really confuse people if you say that in the U.S., and we're confused enough already. And what does "back of 7" mean, anyway? Abbie, maybe the next tornado will bring you and your husband a translator!
Who knows! I think it's just an excuse to arrive home at whatever time he likes!

"Well, I told you I'd be home back of seven"
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When referring to the future (as with up-coming exams), "this" "this coming" and "next" would mean the same to me. On the other hand, when referring to the past, "this" "this past" and "last" would mean the same to me.

The exam will be [this / this coming / next] Tuesday.
The exam was [this / this past / last] Tuesday.

To Mister Micawber,

Re:There is no 'correct' meaning for 'next' here.

If someone on Dec 31 2004 told you, "Bye, see you NEXT year.", does s/he mean year 2005 or year 2006??
Temico, I think you missed the importance of the word herein Mr. M's post. he was referring specifically to the question asked by salchua. Emotion: smile
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