Next and nearest
Which of the following sentences is correct?
- Where is the nearest post office?
- Where is the next post office?
If you chose option 1, “Where is the nearest post office?”, you are correct!
We use “nearest” when we talk about place (spatial). The word “nearest” actually means “closest.” Here is another example:
- My hometown is in the middle of nowhere. The nearest shopping mall is 150 miles away.
The word “next” is normally used to refer to time (chronological). A few examples are:
- My doctor’s appointment is next Tuesday.
- I’m afraid I can’t come to the picnic on Sunday, but I’ll be there next time.
“Next” can also be used to talk about things in some sort of order. For example:
- I haven’t finished reading the first Harry Potter book yet, but I’ve already bought the next one.
- Don’t take the first left because that’s a dead end. Take the next left and it’ll lead you right to the park.
And an example of both: I just spent 45 minutes looking for a bank, and I finally found one right down the street from here after I had given up. Next time I’ll know where the nearest bank is!