I'm a little confused about the difference in usage between the two.

  1. Which is more common?
  2. When would I choose the other (less-common) one to describe a 'next' something?

The dictionary definitions don't seem to help — the entry for ближа́йший claims (sense two) that it would be used to refer to a '(day, year) next'; but then the entry for следующий uses that word instead for 'next year' ("на сле́дующий день".)

2 Answers 2


Следующий means "next". This is literally the following day, week, year and so on:

  • Это отражается на работоспособности на следующий день и на жизненном тонусе в целом.

  • На следующий день я повстречал Шлиппенбаха возле гонорарной кассы.

  • Так что я даже будучи командиром, домой все равно на следующий год попаду.

Ближайший means "closest".

In the singular, it's usually used in the sense of "closest available", "nearest available":

  • Ближайший день, на который у них были билеты, наступал ровно через неделю, а именно 30 декабря.

  • Договариваемся на какой-то ближайший день и ездим за город, в один и тот же мотель.

, although it can mean "next" too, especially with larger periods like week, month, or year:

  • Он весь ближайший месяц будет выходить в ночную смену, а мы с девочками будем работать только днем

In the sentence above, you can just replace it with следующий.

In the plural, it means "coming", like in "in the coming days":

  • Вешняков высказал мнение, что ситуация в крае будет разрешена в ближайшие дни.

  • Я взял телефон её мужа и обещал связаться с ним в ближайшие дни

  • 2
    An addition: the best Russian equivalent to следующий is “following”, since it is derived from the verb следовать “to follow”.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Jan 14, 2022 at 5:04
  • Excellent answer and perfect English!
    – CocoPop
    Commented Jan 14, 2022 at 14:24
  • 1
    @YellowSky You mean English equivalent 😉
    – CocoPop
    Commented Jan 14, 2022 at 15:21
  • 1
    @CocoPop - That's right, I really don't know why I wrote ‘Russian’, hehe. Perhaps I inserted it later and misses the right place, wrote it before ‘equivalent to’ instead of after that.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Jan 14, 2022 at 15:51
  • I was wondering why would somebody say ближайший месяц instead of следующий месяц. I think ближайшай месяц is a period of time until the same date in the next month (similar to English the next month?). And следующий месяц means next calendar month, starting on 1st (English next month without article?). Same for years and weeks (except in Russian, weeks start on Monday, not Sunday).
    – il--ya
    Commented Jan 15, 2022 at 21:57

«Следующий» implies (linear) order. Since time is ordered, it's more common to use it with time expressions. Another usage is, for example, the next person in line.

«Ближайший» is more common when referring to highest spacial proximity: «ближайший магазин», «ближайшая остановка», «ближайший подъезд».

EDIT. You can compare usage frequency via Google Ngram Viewer:

The person in comments mentioned «ближайшее время». «Ближайшее время» is a fixed expression and by itself constitutes the majority of usages of the word «ближайший» in the corpus. Moreover, it doesn't really contradict my statement since this expression is not about order. It doesn't mean "the next epoch".

  • “В ближайшее время” (in quotation marks): 40 million results in Google. "В ближайшие дни" 9.5 million results.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 12:20
  • Thanks for the info. What is your point though? Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 12:26
  • The point is, when you write something like “X is more common than Y”, you could add a kind of reference or a proof-link, or anything like that.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 12:44
  • Like this one? Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 13:02
  • 1
    That is not a proof of anything. You state ближайший is rather about space than about time, or at least I understand your answer this way. If it is so, could you support that statement in a way? The Google results I quoted above say ближайший is as much about time as about space.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 13:20

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