I was watching The Santa Clarita Diet and in one episode, a girl named Abby promises to have breakfast with a boy named Eric. However, Abby later ditches Eric to do something else. Eric finds her later and says,

You ditched me for breakfast.

I am confused by the use of the preposition for in this context. To me, the sentence means the girl ditched Eric just so that she could have breakfast, as in I exchange my life 'for' your happiness but Abby did not have breakfast, so why would Eric use for? Can someone elaborate?

  • There is nothing in that sentence that indicates Abby didn't have breakfast. In fact, the grammar very strongly suggests that she did have breakfast. At the very least, it definitely implies that she meant to have breakfast. Your claim that she didn't have breakfast is both unsupported based on the context you've provided, but it also doesn't matter in terms of the single sentence itself. – Jason Bassford Jun 28 '19 at 23:43

The statement is indeed ambiguous, but understandable. In the absence of other context, to ditch X for Y would overwhelmingly mean, as you surmise, to abandon or discard X and substitute it with Y, in informal registers.

We ditched class for opening day.

She couldn't believe her own sister had ditched her for a boy.

It's well past time to ditch Adobe Flash for HTMl5.

This isn't the only way to interpret for with ditch, however—it is one of the most flexible prepositions in the language. For example, the object of for may represent a purpose or cause for the act of ditching—

I watched Steve blow his brains out because you went and ditched him for your cause! (The Last Hunter, 1980)

It's also very common for it to refer to a scope or duration for the ditching—

She said okay, and then he ditched her for 12 years. (The Women of Doctor Who, 2012)

Fans noticed Mel B ditched her eye patch for the concert return. (from Noise11.com, 2019)

(above film/TV references via english-corpora.org)

In your example, for is used roughly like concerning or in respect to, referring to the intended purpose of the original meeting. It is a compressed way of saying

We were supposed to meet for breakfast, but you ditched me.

You ditched me and our plans for breakfast.

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  • I like to think of this as not a ditched X for Y, but rather just a ditched X and the X, is the entire phrase me for breakfast. so the thing being ditched, was both the person and their breakfast plan – Marcus Gosselin Jun 27 '19 at 0:52
  • @MarcusGosselin Your thinking would be wrong, based on the syntax used. The sentence clearly uses X for Y, not X and Y. So, it's not clear why you'd want to interpret it in a way that the words don't indicate. (The only way your interpretation makes any sense is if the person being ditched was a cannibal and the speaker was on the menu.) – Jason Bassford Jun 28 '19 at 23:46
  • I agreed with everything you said—up until the last sentence, which doesn't mean the same thing as the original sentence at all. – Jason Bassford Jun 28 '19 at 23:49

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