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To cook a meal for dinner or to cook the meal for dinner in the sentence like " I cooked the meal for dinner yesterday."? Which one is proper English?

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    It depends. If there was a prior question such as "When was this meal cooked?", use the. If it was "Did you cook a meal or a whole banquet?", use a. If the only thing you could cook for dinner was a meal, consider "I cooked dinner yesterday." (e.g. to "Who cooked last night?").
    – Lawrence
    Jun 26 '17 at 12:35
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    I don't know how widespread this is, but in my corner of the US the verb paired with dinner to mean "prepare" is almost always make: I made dinner last night. The verb cook I would use on its own to mean the same thing: I cooked last night (so it's your turn to make dinner).
    – 1006a
    Jun 26 '17 at 12:43
  • I would prefer, for the latter case, "I cooked the dinner meal yesterday," which may have a different meaning than that which you're looking for. Jun 26 '17 at 14:22
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Proper everyday English (one p) would just be "To cook dinner". Dinner is a meal there's redundancy in either of your options.

You could just about use the first in some situations: "We were only going to have leftovers but in the end I cooked a meal for dinner yesterday". It doesn't sound quite natural even then -- I'd probably be more specific ("...in the end I cooked pizza...") or rephrase slightly: "We were only going to have leftovers but in the end I cooked a proper dinner yesterday".

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  • You remember I promised to make one of those special kormas sometime this month? I cooked the meal for dinner yesterday. It's a pity you had to stay in Hartlepool. Jun 26 '17 at 22:37
  • @EdwinAshworth I had a similar example in mind but it would always sound more natural.
    – Chris H
    Jun 27 '17 at 6:00

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