When you suggest going to drink an alcoholic beverage, you may say:

  1. Let's go for a drink.
  2. Let's go for drink.
  3. Let's go for drinks.

I searched for google ngram for the usages:

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All of the three forms are used while 'go for a drink' is the preferred choice. Except for the frequency of usage, are there any differences in the meanings?

I thought of 'go to drink' also:

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The 'go to drink' is less frequent than 'go for a drink' but more frequent than the others.

  • Some more examples. Also this comparison.
    – brainchild
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 6:35
  • @epl Thanks!! So 'get a drink' is even better actually. Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 6:45
  • Yes, but use it quickly... Since 2017 it has been going down!
    – brainchild
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 6:49

1 Answer 1

  1. (1) is idiomatic, and roughly means "Let's go to a bar/pub/etc. and socialize for a little while." While alcohol will be served, it's not really the point of the exercise. Socially, this is equivalent to having lunch with someone, but with alcohol instead of food.
  2. You cannot say (2), because the singular "drink" requires a determiner. It is grammatically incorrect without "a" or another word to introduce it.
  3. (3) implies going to the pub or bar (like (1)), but further connotes that you will be staying there for much of the evening. It's a longer time period than (1), though exactly how much longer will depend greatly on group dynamics and other factors.
  • Except "drink" can be non-count, and have a zero determiner. So I agree with 1 and 3, but I think 2 could be reworked.
    – James K
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 7:40
  • It may be wise to avoid strong claims about social implications, as appear in some of these explanations. "Go for a drink" may express starkly different intention in a social context, compared to some mention of lunch not accompanied by any explicit reference to alcoholic beverages.
    – brainchild
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 8:04
  • @epl: Re "incorrect" - This isn't EL&U. I'm trying to provide a useful resource for people who are learning English as a second language. A certain level of linguistic prescriptivism is useful in that context, although it's certainly possible to get carried away with it. I don't think that has happened in this case.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 15:34
  • @epl: As a rule of thumb, singulars do require determiners, at least in simple present indicative as OP is using. I did not want to add a whole laundry list of qualifications, because the Wikipedia article already gives those anyway for people who care to click through, and it would be very confusing to provide a comprehensive explanation of exactly when and where determiners are required in English (it's a complicated subject) in response to a simple "Is X grammatical?" question.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 20:32
  • @epl: Those examples are (1) referring to abstract concepts, not specific identifiable items, and (2) idiomatic expressions (i.e. the construction is not productive).
    – Kevin
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 20:58

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