Which is Correct: “Next Time” or “The Next Time”?

Getting a handle on using the English “the” is challenging. Which phrases need “the” and which don’t? In this article, we’ll be taking a look at “next time” and “the next time.” Which is correct and how do we use it?

Which Is Correct: “Next Time” Or “The Next Time”?

“Next time” and “the next time” are both correct, but not in the same contexts. We say “next time” when we’re talking about the future in relation to now. We use “the next time” when we talk about the past or future in relation to any time other than now.

next time or the next time

“The” marks the difference between these phrases.

When we talk about the future in relation to the current moment, we don’t need to use “the.” Saying “next time” is like saying “next week” or “next Tuesday.” They talk about the future in relation to now so you don’t use “the.”

We use ” the” when we talk about a specific thing or a thing that’s been previously brought up in the conversation. “Next time” is a specific thing when it refers to the past or future not related to now.

Let’s look at how this shows up in “next time” and “the next time”:

  • I’ll see you next time.
  • The next time I saw him he had blue hair.

In the first sentence, “next time” is referring to a point in the future in relation to the current moment so we don’t use “the.”

In the second sentence, “the next time” refers to a time not related to now. “The next time” is a specific thing referring to a time you saw him after a previously mentioned time, so you usually need to use “the.”

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When Should I Use “Next Time”?

You should use “next time” when you’re talking about the future in relation to now. Use “next time” in future tense sentences. Informally, you can use “next time” in past tense sentences. But you shouldn’t do this in formal settings.

Compare these correct and incorrect examples:

  • (Correct) I’ll try it next time.
  • (Incorrect) I’ll try it the next time.

In the second sentence, a native English speaker will think your sentence isn’t finished. They will be expecting you to add additional information to be more specific. This is because “the” is used for specific things.

There are some informal situations where you would typically use “the next time” that you can use “next time.” For example:

  • (Informal) Next time I saw him he had blue hair.

“Next time I saw him” is a specific point in time that appears to be referring to something previously mentioned in the conversation. You should use “the” here, but it is often omitted in colloquial speech.

Examples Of How To Use “Next Time” In A Sentence

Here are some more examples:

  • I’ll see if I can figure it out next time.
  • What about next time?
  • We can try again next time.
  • Do you want to come with us next time?
  • I’ll visit you next time.
  • (Informal) Do you want to come with us next time we go to the zoo?
  • (Informal) I’ll come see you next time I’m in town.

When Should I Use “The Next Time”?

You should use “the next time” when you’re talking about the past or future not related to now. “The next time” can be in both future and past tense sentences.

As a general rule of thumb, if you’re telling a story about something that happened in the past you’ll use “the next time.”

Since the thing you’re talking about already happened, you’re not referring to the future in relation to now. You’re referring the to future in relation to a previously mentioned timeframe, so “the next time” is correct.

You also use “the next time” when you’re talking about a specific situation.

Dropping “the” in these situations is technically incorrect but often done in colloquial spoken English.

Examples Of How To Use “The Next Time” In A Sentence

Here are some examples:

  • Do you want to come with us the next time we go to the zoo?
  • I’ll come to see you the next time I’m in town.
  • The first time I went to China was for school. The next time I go I want to have fun.
  • You have to visit us the next time you’re in New York!
  • I’ll see if I can figure it out the next time it rains.
  • The next time I saw her she didn’t even recognize me.
  • It was dark the next time she looked out the window.

When Should I Use “For The Next Week” And “In The Next Week”?

Use “for the next week” when you’re talking about something that is happening continuously throughout the week. Use “in the next week” when you’re talking about something that is going to happen at some point during the next seven days.

“For the next week” is continuous. If you omit “the” the meaning changes. “For next week” isn’t continuous. It can be like saying “until next week.” It can also describe something that is to be completed during or in preparation for the following week.

Here are some examples:

  • We’ll be focusing on Unit 3 for the next week.
  • You’ll need to keep watching him for the next week or so.
  • I’m working the bar for the next week.
  • Do we have homework for next week?
  • Read Chapter 8 to prepare for next week’s test.

Note that the last two examples aren’t continuous.

“In the next week” also isn’t continuous. It refers to a specific thing that is expected to happen at some point within the next seven days.

You can’t omit “the” from “in the next week.” “In next week” is incorrect.

Here are some examples:

  • (Incorrect) You’ll hear from us sometime in next week.
  • (Incorrect) I’ll send it to you in next week or so.
  • You’ll hear from us sometime in the next week.
  • I’ll send it to you in the next week or so.
  • If I don’t hear from him in the next week I’ll pass it off to someone else.

You may also like: “Next Week” – Easy Preposition Guide (Helpful Examples)