Grammar 101 with Michael Kwan

“Man, I’ve been working so hard these last few days and I’m absolutely exhausted. It’s a good thing that tomorrow is my Friday. I’m going to celebrate by going out for Wing Wednesdays after work tomorrow.”

Do you see the problem with the above statement? This person is referring to tomorrow as “my Friday,” but they go on to mention that they’ll be able to take advantage of “Wing Wednesdays” tomorrow too. How can that possibly make any sense at all? The problem here arises with ambiguous meanings and the notion of relative perspective in casual conversation.

Putting in the Hours

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the colloquialism, “my Friday” would refer to the last day in someone’s work week. This is because the traditional work week is one that starts on a Monday and ends on Friday, providing workers with Saturday and Sunday as their days off. As the famed song once went, “everybody’s working for the weekend.”

And while a great proportion of the working population continue to work from Monday to Friday, not everyone does. There’s a lot of shift work out there, in addition to schedule rotations. A person might work from Sunday to Thursday, getting Friday and Saturday off. Or, in the case of the hypothetical person at the top, he might work from Saturday to Wednesday, taking Thursday and Friday as his regular days off. This, of course, assumes he gets any days off at all (but that’s another conversation for another day).

The Relativity of My Friday

Given this perspective, he might refer to the last day in his work week as his “Friday,” even though it is actually a Wednesday to everyone else. And therein lies a problem regarding precision of language. If the whole point of having proper grammar and syntax is to ensure that your message is understood, then using phrases like “my Friday” must be avoided. All they do is create unnecessary confusion.

Many years ago, I had a part-time job where I typically worked in the evenings and my work week rarely ran from Monday to Friday. As a result, many of my fellow shift workers would say things like “today is my Friday” on days other than Friday. It bugged me then and it bugged me now. Similarly, since the evening shift ran from around 4pm to midnight, some of my co-workers would refer to their meal break as their “lunch” break… even though it would be “dinner” for just about anyone else.

Clear and Present Danger

Having fun with language can indeed be fun — I’m no stranger to terrible puns — but please don’t ever refer to the last day of work as your Friday. It’s almost as bad as talking about your PIN number.