Q: Quandary - Some friends and I were talking about a day in the future (Friday, say, when we go for our weekly lunch) and we ended up in nice discussion about next versus this.
On Wednesday we might say "Let's do this this Friday".
On Saturday we might say "Let's do this next Friday".
But, on Thursday if we said "Let's do this next Friday I would think it's the week Friday and not tomorrow."
Shouldn't we have day limits on "next" and "this"?
A: We probably should, but we don't. As a general rule, "this Friday" should be the immediate Friday in our future, whether we're talking about it on Saturday or Thursday. "Next Friday" should be the following Friday. In practice, however, many people use the terms interchangeably, and confusingly.
The British and some Commonwealth countries have a useful expression: "Let's meet for lunch on Friday week"—that is, one week after the coming Friday. I have no idea why Canadians and Americans prefer the longer "a week from Friday."