In English, we tend to avoid saying "next Wednesday", etc., because it's ambiguous. It humorously arises in a Seinfeld quote:

Sid: No, next Wednesday, [the] week after this Wednesday.

Jerry: But the Wednesday two days from now is the next Wednesday.

Sid: If I meant this Wednesday, I would have said this Wednesday. It's the week after this Wednesday.

Question: Is 下个星期三 ambiguous like in English?

Basically, I wonder if 下个星期三 might be unclear about whether it refers to "the Wednesday two days from now" or "the week after this Wednesday".

In English, we instead say "Wednesday" or "this Wednesday" which both mean the subsequent Wednesday, or even "Wednesday week" which means the week after this Wednesday.

  • Those words are ordered more like "next week, 3", so it naturally leads people into thing about something "next week" first, hence avoiding the ambiguity. – user3528438 May 7 '18 at 14:58

下个星期三 would only refer to Wednesday, next week. There is no way you would use 下个星期三 to refer to Wednesday this week, like the one that is coming two days from now, that would just be 星期三.

There's a question on Baidu Zhidao that, kind of(?), asks this.


with answers like:




Perhaps Larry David would be disappointed though.

  • totally agree with the first paragraph, but what does it mean by "下个星期三要多少天?"... totally cannot understand as a native speaker – wilson May 30 '18 at 4:18
  • @wilson I took it to mean “how many days till next Wednesday,” hard to know if it was written by a native speaker or not though. – Mou某 May 30 '18 at 7:43

The ambiguity come from "next" has the meaning of "up coming"

The Seinfeld joke applied the "up coming" meaning of "next" to create confusion, but in practice, people always refer "next Wednesday" to "next week's Wednesday". If you meant to say "the up coming Wednesday" you would just say so -- "the up coming Wednesday"

It is the same in Chinese, the term "下星期三" always refers to "下周的星期三" ; if you meant to say "the up coming Wednesday", you have to say "即将到来的星期三" (refer to the up coming Wednesday, no matter it is in this week or next week)

If you meant to say "this Wednesday" (the Wednesday this week, no matter it is yet to come or has passed) you have to say "本星期三" or simply "星期三"

"下一個星期三" or "下個星期三" (the next Wednesday) is considered ambiguous only in theory that '下一個' (the next one) and '即将到来的' (the up coming one) carry similar meaning. But it is never ambiguous in practice

[下 (next) + day of the week] is in relative to [本 (this) + day of the week]

下 = next (week's)

本 = this (week's)

  • No-one says "the upcoming Wednesday" though, we just say "this wednesday". And in Chinese people would surely say 这星期三 rather than 即将到来的星期三 – Angus Macrae May 8 '18 at 8:46
  • 1
    The first part of this answer is completely incorrect. In English, ‘next Wednesday’ does very frequently refer to the upcoming Wednesday, whether that’s this week or next week. There is real ambiguity there, and people use the phrase in different ways. The same is true of seasons: if it’s currently June 2018 and I say ‘next autumn’, the most common interpretation would be that I’m referring to the autumn that will start in September 2018 (in the northern hemisphere). Absolutely nobody would say ‘the upcoming Wednesday’ in natural speech. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 3 '18 at 10:00





I think 下个星期三 is parsed as 下个星期·三 rather than 下个·星期三, thus won't cause ambiguity.

One proof is that we rarely say 下个周三 even though 周三=星期三, instead we say 下周三, because 下周=下个星期.

下个星期三:下周的星期三  Wednesday on next week
这个星期三:这周的星期三  Wednesday on current week
上个星期三:上周的星期三  Wednesday on last week

The answer is NO. "下个星期三" means next week's Wednesday. Perhaps the reason is those words sounds like "下个=next,星期=week,三=3". Therefore, "下个星期三" sounds like "next week 3", and it starts with "next week" so that there would be no ambiguity. If people want to express "the next Wednesday even it's just tomorrow",people can say "下一个星期三". However, it's rarely uesd. The best practice to express this concept in China is to say "从今天起的下一个星期三",which is "next Wednesday from today on". The word "from today on" doesn't have much real meaning. It's purpose is to emphasize "next Wednesday" in order to reduce ambiguity.

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