1

Do they mean different things? Or they are the same?

Example sentence:

Tom's choice (for) tonight is chicken salad.

My theory is that "for" indicates that there's an object and without "for" the sentence focuses on the choice itself. But I'm not very sure.

2

Not 100% the same.

What are the choices we can plan for the days of the week (for tonight, for Monday, etc]. for tonight implies for a specific time as opposed to some other time, which is implied. The "for" points to a time.

A menu discussion, for example:

Tom's choice for tonight is chicken. [A menu is being planned,for example]

Versus providing information about his or anybody's choice.

Tom's choice tonight is chicken.

Some person named Tom is choosing chicken [to eat or to serve etc.] from a list of possibilities. Tom could be a restaurant goer or chef or anybody.

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