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  1. Which one is correct? To join someone for a drink or to join someone in a drink?
  2. Is there any formal way to ask someone the same thing?
  3. It's out of context of this question (somehow), but I'd like you to imagine a formal party where you'd have invited some guests. How can you ask them "politely" to go and start their meals?

Thank you.

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Q1. I believe both phrases are proper (US) English, though for quite different situations.

Joining someone for a (alcoholic) drink implies a normal, casual social occasion. "Hey, we're going to stop by Chili's on the way home, if you want to join us for a drink." (Or "join us for drinks" implying a period of time.)

Joining someone in a drink would imply a much deeper meaning to your participation. It would emphasize that particular drink and some kind of bonding or ceremonial event. For example, a good friend just got fired and you meet him at a bar and he has obviously been drinking and hands you a beer. Or your boss is very pleased at a huge deal that you just sealed, so he hands you a celebratory glass of whisky and the two of you drink in celebration.

Q2. Unless you're making a toast or something formal, you'd ask someone to join you for a drink (or for drinks). The exact wording of a formal invitation would depend on how formal you mean (e.g. do you mean printed invitation cards?).

Q3. This is more of a cultural question in many of its details, but I would make it more polite not by being formal in my speech but by expressing my gratitude and best wishes for the evening. If I were the sole host and was not married, I would say "I", otherwise I would say "we" (i.e. either my wife and I are the hosts, or I am speaking on behalf of my company or association). For example (making a lot of assumptions about the physical situation, place and time):

"Excuse me lades and gentlemen... Thank you for being here this evening as our guests. We're so happy to see each one of you, and hope that you're already enjoying the evening and each other's company. The food is ready, so if you could please make your way to the dining room, where we'll continue our conversations over some incredible food... Thank you."

I'm glossing over many social/cultural issues here, of course.

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  • Thank you for detailed info. However, I didn't give you details for my Q1. Consider an office where you're drinking some tea (or any other "non-alcoholic" drinks). Someone passes you by & you'd like him/her to join in (if they want too). How am I supposed to ask this? – Joe Bank Feb 14 '14 at 2:48
  • I'd probably say something like, "Would you like some tea?" or perhaps, "Join me for some tea?" or "Time for a tea break, want to join me?". If they say, "I don't drink tea" but weren't obviously rejecting my offer, I'd mention their other beverage options. If it it was a busy place and I was relaxing, I might offer, "Need to take a break? They have nice tea here." or something appropriate. If they look particularly harried, I might say, "Wow, you look like you could use a break. Want to join me for tea?" – Wayne Feb 14 '14 at 3:00
  • Joining someone "in a drink" sounds like climbing inside the glass with them (or perhaps getting in a swimming pool with them, at a stretch)... I have difficulty reading it to mean anything else. – Brilliand May 22 '14 at 19:57
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I would say:

join someone for a drink

To say:

join someone in a drink

brings to mind people swimming in a wine glass.

However, you do

join someone in a toast.

(the perspective of one U.S. English speaker.)

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