The following lines are written in this blog:

The Ritz hotel in Paris, where Princess Diana spent her last meal and evening with Dodi Al Fayed before their fatal car crash in August 1997, was the scene of a dramatic blaze this morning.

I know that we can write 'spend an evening', but can we write 'spend a meal with someone'? If yes, then which type of construction is this?

To my mind, the correct sentence is:

The Ritz hotel in Paris, where Princess Diana had her last meal and spent an evening with Dodi Al Fayed...

  • Good question again! +1. I think the writer took spending evening and having meals as ONE event which she spent on that day. – Maulik V Jan 20 '16 at 6:26
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    Damn, you beat me by seconds. – Varun Nair Jan 20 '16 at 6:27

Since "meal" can mean not only "food" but also "time for eating" the author could use the verb "to spend" uniting the time for eating and the time meant by the word "evening".But writing the headline he preferred the verb "to have "(had her last meal).

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    +1 A meal refers to the time to eat just as easily as it does to the food. So spending a meal is completely unremarkable to my American ears. – Karen Jan 20 '16 at 13:55

The expression is not idiomatic considering the below headline where the writer used just "had her last meal".

Fire Burns World-Famous Paris Ritz Hotel Where Princess Diana Had Her Last Meal.

More idiomatic expression would be

The Ritz hotel in Paris, where Princess Diana spent her last evening having dinner with Dodi Al Fayed...

If you use "had her last meal and spent an evening", it sounds a little redundant as last evening could include the time spent for her last meal. The headline seems to be the most concise description, but it seems that the writer didn't want to repeat the same sentence.

It is understandable, but not idiomatic.


You spend a period of time, and you consume a meal. But if you're considering the meal as a period of time rather than as something consumed, as in the text you quote, then you can spend it.


Yes, it could be written as you have suggested. But it depends on what "spent" is referred to. In my opinion, the author has clubbed "meal" and "the evening" as a single event, and among the two, "the evening" has a little more prominence as "spending an evening" with someone would most probably include a meal. In your suggestion, you have treated "having the meal" and "spending the evening" as two events, unlike the author of the blog (most likely), which led you to construct the sentence in a different way. Among the two, your sentence has a little more clarity, but I wouldn't label the writer's sentence as incorrect.

  • +1; You just wrote an answer that I was comprising in my comment. But interestingly, if you 'split' these two events, it looks weird. Say - I have a pen and a paper. So, I have a pen. I have a paper; this does not go well with the said example! :) – Maulik V Jan 20 '16 at 6:28
  • 'You have a pen' and 'You have a paper' are two separate notions, right ? – Varun Nair Jan 20 '16 at 6:31
  • Spend and Have are apples and oranges, mates (pasar vs tener). – lurker Jan 20 '16 at 6:38
  • @lurker, I agree with the fact that "spend a meal" is not the best way to put it, as a matter of fact, it sounds wrong to me. But the author must have given priority to the "evening", rather than the meal, which led him to write "spent the meal and the evening" – Varun Nair Jan 20 '16 at 6:40
  • No, I just split - I have a pen and (a) paper! – Maulik V Jan 20 '16 at 6:40

In addition to the other answers, it's also possible that the author was thinking of a last meal or last evening as something that you can only have one of, by definition, so having your last meal is "spending" it in a sense that usually doesn't apply with common meals. This usage seems slightly poetic though, so I'd expect it to be intended this way more often in contexts less objective than the source you provided.

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