I feel like "for 7pm" is possibly colloquial and perhaps not quite Standard English, but I have heard it a lot. I can't think if there's any difference in meaning between "I'll be there for 7" and "I'll be there at 7". Is there?

Also, where did this form come from? Is it dialectal or colloquial?

I couldn't find a related question on SE or Google, this question is about the difference between "at" and "by".

  • It is formal British English.
    – Hugh
    Mar 25, 2019 at 20:00
  • That's interesting - I'm British and never registered it had a formal meaning!
    – Lou
    Mar 25, 2019 at 20:01
  • This is a duplicate of english.stackexchange.com/q/489274/17956 which was migrated to ELL
    – Jim
    Mar 26, 2019 at 1:57

3 Answers 3


'For' means "in good time for". In Britain, formal invitations for dinner used to say "7 for 7.30", meaning that you can arrive from 7 PM onwards, but should definitely arrive before 7.30.

  • Compare ell.stackexchange.com/questions/114695/…,
    – Hugh
    Mar 25, 2019 at 19:58
  • That's really interesting, I'm British and I'd never heard of this before!
    – Lou
    Mar 25, 2019 at 20:01
  • @Lou Which part haven't you encountered, "I'll be there for 7:00" or "Be there at 7:00 for 7:30"? I see the latter quite often in the context of performance bookings, it means "Be there for set up and sound checks at 7:00 or just after, the performance starts at 7:30"
    – BoldBen
    Mar 25, 2019 at 22:05
  • If a formal British upper-class dinner invitation says "7 for 7.30", that half-hour period is for "cocktails". Mar 25, 2019 at 22:41
  • I've seen it used for all kinds of social events, not just formal ones. The earlier time is when guests can start to arrive, find a drink and/or a seat, and the later time is when the activity itself is scheduled to start. Mar 26, 2019 at 10:33

I think its really more that for is used to describe an event in most cases, such as I'll be there for Christmas, while at is used for a time.

I guess you could use for, for a time, but it sounds odd.


Possibly, you can use 'for 7' if 7pm is the time of a thing (dinner, event). By using 'for 7' you would indicate that you will be there when the thing starts/happens. Although, possibly, you will be (slightly, or a lot) earlier, because you are making sure, are agreeing, that you will be there at 7pm.

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