I'm reading kids' textbook.

The question is "Which preposition should you choose?"

We drank the milk ___ lunch.

Is the blank at, to, in, or on?

The book provides those four options.


"At lunch" is an idiom that means "while we were eating lunch." More broadly, it may mean the time immediately before eating or immediately after eating but at a place associated with eating such as a restaurant.

"At" is usually an indicator of place. I suspect (but do not have a citation) that "at lunch" etc. derive from the old fashioned phrase "at table," meaning "sitting at a table while eating a meal."

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  • Thank you for answering!! That makes sense!! The problem solved :) – Mana Jan 27 '19 at 6:14

Of those four options, the only one that sounds correct and idiomatic is at:

We drank the milk at lunch.

As another answer already points out, at lunch is idiomatic, and the phrase basically means at lunchtime.

I can think of ways to alter the sentence such that some of the other prepositions would be the best fit:

  • We drank the milk on our lunch break.
  • We drank the milk in the lunchroom.

The phrase on break is similar to at lunch; it refers to the time spent on a break.

There are other prepositions that would also fit:

  1. We drank the milk during lunch.
  2. We drank the milk with lunch.
  3. We drank the milk for lunch.

That third sentence (with for) implies that milk was the meal itself, not just the beverage served with lunch. Normally, this would be an unusual sentence, unless perhaps the speaker was participating in some diet plan where a glass of milk was supposed to be a substitute for a full meal. But this sentence would not sound odd at all:

We drank the smoothie for lunch.

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  • Thank you a lot for thinking about options and other prepositions!! I should have noticed your question and answered it yesterday: ( But I'm very happy to see your great explaining about it!! I understand it!! I appliciate your kindness! – Mana Jan 27 '19 at 6:23
  • @Mana - No problem, but don't leave too many thank-you comments. Here's why. – J.R. Jan 28 '19 at 15:22

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