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.

Which expression do Americans prefer, have a breakfast or eat a breakfast?

share|improve this question
    
A side note; Having breakfast is, in my opinion, more technically correct as it can contain both eating and drinking whereas eating breakfast would, again technically speaking, omit the act of drinking. –  user19131 Mar 17 '12 at 17:29

1 Answer 1

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Usually, we omit the a in a situation like this:

I'm going to eat/have breakfast.

Unless you want to say something like this:

I usually eat a [adjective] breakfast.

Or:

We're having a breakfast meeting.

Etc.

But in the specific case you asked about, eat and have are interchangeable. They both convey the same message.

According to this Ngram, have is more common, but just barely.

Note: I'm not actually American, but seeing as how there isn't much variation between American and Canadian English, I would say I can still answer this question. I also used the American English corpus for my Ngram.

share|improve this answer
3  
+1 Great comment. You nailed it. Not much variation between American and Canadian English, eh? Apparently so. –  J.R. Mar 17 '12 at 10:02
    
It would be nice if you'd included a link to the NGram itself, so I could check British usage (where as I expected, we significantly prefer have breakfast). Not surprising in my case, since I can hardly eat a cigarette and cup of coffee! –  FumbleFingers Mar 17 '12 at 17:35
2  
@FumbleFingers Click on the image, it will take you there. –  Mahnax Mar 17 '12 at 19:05
    
@Mahnax: Gosh! I don't know if I've ever seen that style before! I even called up "edit" on the answer to see how you did it, but it looks waaay too hard for me. –  FumbleFingers Mar 17 '12 at 21:19
    
@FumbleFingers It's just HTML, heh. –  Mahnax Mar 17 '12 at 22:00

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.