Archives for posts with tag: That

It’s really hard for native English speakers to agree on the correct definition of this week vs next week. Even family members confuse each other. How much harder must it be for non-native speakers, unless they’ve been taught an easier, simpler way?

Then there’s this weekend vs next weekend. If it’s Wednesday today, does this weekend or next weekend start in 2 days’ time? Tricky one. Sometimes we have to qualify ourselves by saying something like ‘this week coming’. Awkward. It interests me that something so basic and important is subject to such variance.

For me it’s a simple distinction, like the distinction between this and that, which governs how we explain the difference to those speakers of language who have no separate word (‘dieser’ being both this and that in German). I argued in that post that this is close in time and place, and that is less close in time and place. With me so far?

This week is the week we’re in right now, and I count my week from Monday to Sunday.

This weekend is the first weekend after today. If it’s a Saturday or Sunday, this weekend is the one I’m in, right now.

Next week is the week commencing Monday. If it’s a Sunday, next week starts tomorrow. If it’s a Monday, next week starts a week today because I’ve started this week. If it’s any other day than Monday, next week starts on Monday.

Next weekend is not this weekend, it’s the one after.

However, if you count your weeks from Sunday to Saturday, then all bets are off, because if it’s a Sunday then for you next week starts next Sunday, not tomorrow :-). Ha, I’m actually laughing out loud as I write this.

Should I have used a diagram? Do you agree with my definition? Do you care?

 

Advertisements

I have a friend – it’s true I tell you – who’s from Germany. His German is flawless, as you might expect, and his English is better than fluent. The one area he struggles with is This and That.

Note that I’m not talking about my favourite shop of the year in 2013, which luxuriates in the same name.

You see, there’s one German word – dieser/diese/dieses depending on the gender of the noun – to signify this and that, so they’ve never had to make the distinction, which is a problem where they communicate in those languages that do make the distinction.

The way I explain it is that it’s a question of distance, geographically and temporally. We use ‘this’ if it’s near to us, we use ‘that’ when it’s far, relatively speaking.

A couple of examples will suffice:

Customer: I want that apple please [pointing], the one there.

Grocer: What, this one here [picking it up]?

Customer: Yes please.

or…

That was good [past tense, further away], but this is better [present tense, near].

Germans have no issue with here and there, because they have different words, hier and da. Drawing a parallel between how they should use this and that, with how they already use here and there, helps them out considerably. Next time you hear a German making this mistake, it could be your good deed for the day to put them right :-).