I always thought that the only correct is make lunch or cook lunch. But in this video at 30 minutes and 32 seconds a native English teacher is saying that it is possible to say

I am going to make a lunch


I am going to make lunches.

He doesn't explain the difference though. What is the difference? For that matter, can I say

I am making a breakfast?

If so, then what would be the difference between make breakfast and make a breakfast?

2 Answers 2


Context is the key issue here. “Make lunch” is the usual formulation, but “make a lunch” can work too in a particular context. He is talking in the video about making “a lunch” and packing “a lunch” in a lunchbox to take to work. He then has “a lunch” ready to eat when it is lunchtime at work. The indefinite article (“a”) here indicates that he has prepared one of the many possible lunches he could prepare for work - sandwiches, a tin of tuna, ramen, yoghurt, fruit, etc. It’s an example of a lunch.

He could easily have said all that he did say about lunch without ever using the indefinite article. It would have been just as correct and idiomatic to say “every day I make lunch to take to work” but in this context he chose “every day I make a lunch to take to work”.

It works just the same with breakfast. It’s usual to say things like, “Do you want me to make breakfast?” but in some contexts the indefinite article a can be used. For example, “He is a real pig. He makes her get up before him every day just to cook him a breakfast.”

  • I am an Australian English speaker, by the way. I am also very familiar with American usage, having once lived and worked there. Dec 23, 2019 at 11:41

My answer is based on British English idioms. I don't disagree with the guy in the video, but he is a little dogmatic about what the idioms mean.

"Make lunch" idiomatically means to prepare that meal for any number of persons. I would say that if I was making lunch for myself, my family, any number of people.


I'm going to make lunch - what would you like?

"Make a lunch", using the indefinite article, idiomatically means that you are preparing food to be eaten later, for example, a packed lunch or a picnic. Again, it could be for just yourself, or for other people too.

We will be out all day, so I'll make a lunch for us.

  • I agree he is far too dogmatic. Each formulation seems equally possible. Dec 23, 2019 at 11:38

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