Why do we say "to invite someone for _ dinner" without any article whereas in "to go for a walk" we use one?

Is there any general rule covering the cases or should they just be remembered?


It's just idiomatic:

Meals. Generically:

invite someone to dinner and all the other meals, too. [breakfast,lunch, supper and tea]

You can use for, also. That is slightly different than: I was invited to a dinner when I was in Paris. The dinner was very formal. However, specifically, you might say a instead of nothing: a dinner, a lunch when explaining it. Tea is a bit different. No "a tea" here.

Movement and transportation:

go for a drive, for a walk, for a spin, for a run, for a swim, for a ride (horses or bikes or motorbikes) = as a generic idea for an activity

The phrases works as one, though drives and walks are often used in the plural, too.

  • 1
    A dinner, as Lambie implies, is a formal occasion which includes the serving of a meal. It's much less common to hold a formal meal at breakfast- or teatime, though a breakfast or a tea are possible (in my opinion). If you invite someone for dinner, it could mean just to share in your normal family meal. – Kate Bunting Jun 19 '20 at 9:19
  • When I was in London, I was invited to a breakfast [or tea] for diplomats. – Lambie Jun 19 '20 at 14:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.