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I just want to confirm the meaning of the following sentence:

Les cours à l'université commencent dans trois semaines.

Does the above sentence mean that:

  • The university courses will start in three weeks?

or

  • The university courses will start in week three?
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    Please tag your questions properly. french is meaningless (all questions on this site are about French). france is for French as spoken in France as opposed to other countries, which this question is not about. – Gilles Jul 12 '14 at 15:18
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To answer the question, I will reverse the direction of the translation :

  • The first sentence :

    The university courses will start in three weeks

    becomes

    Les cours à l'université vont commencer dans trois semaines

    so, within 21 days.

  • The second sentence :

    The university courses will start in week three

    becomes

    les cours à l'université vont commencer à la troisième semaine

    That's "correct" but case-specific : indeed there is a lack of information here, since we do not know which month or year it is about (third week of which month)... Thus the speaker has to precise a landmark starting from which we start counting weeks.

A more convenient sentence would be :

Les cours à l'université vont commencer à la troisieme semaine du mois prochain.

I hope this clears up the ambiguity.

Finally, in French or in English it's not convenient (although correct) to reference order by number such as in "week three" : we should rather use "third week"/"troisième semaine".

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It means that the university courses will start in three weeks.

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