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?

1 Answer 1


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. Jun 19, 2020 at 9:19
  • When I was in London, I was invited to a breakfast [or tea] for diplomats.
    – Lambie
    Jun 19, 2020 at 14:32

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