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Is saying you will be some place "for 5:00", the same as saying you will be there "by 5:00"? Is it grammatically correct to say "for 5:00"?

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  • Please indicate the level of formality you are after.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 12:50

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Usually, we ask people to attend somewhere for a time, if we wish them to arrive a short time before that. For example, if something (a meal, a performance, etc) is to start at 5 PM, we might wish everybody to be seated and ready at that time, so a person reading or hearing 'for 5 PM' will know that they should arrive earlier.

If we ask people to arrive by a time, we mean that they should arrive before that time, or at that time, but no later.

In the UK, formal invitations, e.g. for dinner, might say '7 for 7.30'. This means that people should arrive shortly after 7, and well before 7.30. Usually, during that time interval, cocktails are served.

Comment by user 'RedSonja' under the answer to a similar question:

The point is, if you get there at 7 you will get a glass of sherry. If you get there at 7:30 you'll find everyone sitting at table. Or worse, They are all standing around waiting for you, and the host says "Oh, now we're all here...". If you cause dinner to start late the soufflé will fall and the chef will never forget that it was your fault

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  • It's worth noting that this particular usage is generally only found in British English, as commenters on that other question noted.
    – alphabet
    Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 0:36

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