Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Does one need to use the article in this case?

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

No. "To have dinner" is the idiom.

While "to have a dinner" is not ungrammatical, I have been struggling to concoct a circumstance in which I might say that, and it's hard. The only one I have been able to come up with is with a different meaning of the word "dinner", viz a formal event at which one eats (i.e. a banquet). Then we might say "Our society has a dinner every year on the occasion of ... ".

But I can't come up with a likely use with the ordinary meaning of "dinner".

share|improve this answer
    
Are you saying that "to have dinner" is idiomatical and in normal cases "a dinner" should be used? –  Louis Rhys Apr 11 '11 at 12:13
    
@Louis: no. "To have dinner" is the more common usage, and probably the one you want. "To have a dinner" means something different, and is less common. –  Steve Melnikoff Apr 11 '11 at 12:28
5  
agreed. "To have a dinner" implies a meal for a specific reason. Other examples might be, "we're having a dinner in his honour", or "we're having a birthday dinner for you", etc. –  Steve Melnikoff Apr 11 '11 at 12:30
    
@Steve: thanks - you've crystallised my unclear thoughts about "have a dinner". –  Colin Fine Apr 11 '11 at 14:55
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.