5

From the sitcom Seinfeld (episode The Couch):

KRAMER: (scanning a menu) So, how was the dinner last night?
JERRY: Oh, well…
KRAMER: Did you enjoy the duck? (Elaine comes over…) Oh, Elaine! I was just asking how dinner went last night.
ELAINE: (sitting down) Oh, well…
KRAMER: Alright, what did you do to Poppie?
ELAINE: Nothing.
KRAMER: Well, he's in the hospital. And the cook says you put him there.
ELAINE: What's wrong with him?
KRAMER: I don't know. I'm gonna go and visit him later. It would be nice if you got him something. (Punches the table to accentuate this and leaves.)
JERRY: We should get him something.
ELAINE: Yeah. You're right.

I don't understand why Kramer first says the dinner, but when he says it a second time, he drops the article. What's the reason behind that?

  • 1
    Could it be just because people tend to drop articles in speech? – CowperKettle Dec 5 '14 at 9:47
14

This is one of the cases where the definite article is optional. There is a slight difference in meaning between "the dinner" and simply "dinner".

How was the dinner?

In this case, "the dinner" often refers to the meal as an event.

How was dinner?

In this case, "dinner" simply refers to an evening meal.

You don't provide the context before that conversation; for example, what specifically was occurring at that meal. If it were a special event like a charity dinner or similar, I would expect "the dinner" in some contexts.

If it were just a few people eating dinner together, I would not typically expect to hear "the dinner"

  • 3
    Nice distinction, the dinner will usually denote an event with an air of formality about it. "Did you go the the dinner in honour of the Australian Prime Minister's visit?". However this could also be phrased as: "Did you go the last night's dinner in honour of the Australian Prime Minister's visit?". Both are correct. In British English use (or misuse) of the dinner can say a lot about the social standing of the speaker. – Ian Lewis Dec 5 '14 at 15:22
  • 3
    I would not say, ""Did you go the last night's dinner..." At least in AmE, there is something odd about the words last night's coming between the definite article and the word dinner. – J.R. Dec 8 '17 at 19:55
5

Although there is no need for 'the' here. Saying:

"How was the dinner last night?"

or

"How was your dinner last night?"

or

"How was dinner last night?"

All seem to make sense and convey the same meaning. So you have a choice there.

  • 3
    That's true; all three of those are understandable and grammatical. I'll add one extra note: all three questions can be used to ask about the quality of the food, or about the quality of the overall dining experience. (There are more ways to ruin dinner besides bad cooking – music too loud, room too smoky, screaming kid nearby, people arguing at the table, etc.) – J.R. Dec 5 '14 at 10:54
  • Oh, so when we think of dinner as a process, not as an event, we use no article. Interesting. – CowperKettle Dec 5 '14 at 14:52
1

Please refer to the 'omission of articles.' I am going to my friend's house for a dinner party tonight. The dinner party which was organized in my friend's house was fabulous. We had a lavish dinner in a hotel. The lavish dinner was expensive.

  1. A dinner party refers to an event more than THE dinner itself. Again THE dinner does not refer to the actual dinner as such therefore The dinner is used.

  2. THE dinner party which was..... Here THE has been used for two reasons. 1. Because THE is referring to the previous sentence or it is a continuation of a story. 2. Again it is an event and not an actual meal as such.

  3. THE lavish dinner... Here lavish is an adjective so an article THe is used before an adjective and not the word dinner as such

  4. Come on guys let's have dinner it's already 9. In this case we are not using any article because it is referring to a meal and not an event or party and so on.

We don't use articles before the names of any meals. Hope I am right and I hope more that it will help the readers.

For more understanding please refer to the 'omission of articles' Typo error if any may please be excused. TIA

-1

You are right. We don't use any article preferably before names of meals without quality/quantity adjectives after articles (articles are also adjectives).

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