All I'm trying to ask is whether or not my friend is going to be available in the library at the time of lunch(12:00). Even though I'm bilingual/multilingual in three different languages including English, lately some aspects of the language has been confusing to me as I'm learning a new language.

  • 2
    I'd use lunchtime rather than lunch (but that might just be habit). – KillingTime Oct 25 '19 at 9:54
  • Do you mean: "All I'm trying to ask is whether or not my friend is going to be available in the library at the time of lunch (12:00). Even though I'm multilingual, and consider myself proficient in English, I've recently been finding some aspects of English as confusing to me as if it were a new language I was learning."? If so, join the club:) – Edwin Ashworth Oct 25 '19 at 11:21
  • No, that's not quite what I mean. – iamsumitd Oct 25 '19 at 12:08
  • I'm trying subtly to point out that your text is (a) ungrammatical (some aspects ... has) and (b), if as intended, contradictory ('I'm ... multilingual in three different languages including English ... ... [but] I'm learning a new language (which can only be English)'. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 25 '19 at 15:01

Since you are referring to a specific time when you say lunch, I would say "...during lunch?".

  • That seems more relevant. How would you go about asking the same question with your peers, in a very casual manner? – iamsumitd Oct 25 '19 at 9:32
  • I would say your sentence is very casual as it is. – Özgür Akyıldız Oct 25 '19 at 9:33
  • Does there exist a very formal version which is significantly distinct from this one? – iamsumitd Oct 25 '19 at 9:36
  • I think you are overthinking this. Although, there could be dozens of different ways to ask this question, the idea is very straight forward. So, it cannot be and should not be made more complicated. – Özgür Akyıldız Oct 25 '19 at 9:42

'At lunch' meaning 'at lunchtime' is a usage I was familiar with in grammar school 50 years ago. It's isoformal with 'at break', 'at hometime', 'at Christmas'. And while it could have the locative sense, it defaulted to the temporal (but context was / is important. With some sentences with obvious locatives [Will you be in the library / refectory / cafe ...], the temporal sense is almost forced.

I'll see you at break / lunch / hometime.

We must get together at Christmas.

But contrast

I'll be at lunch in the pub. [non-temporal]

I'll be in the pub at lunch. [most likely temporal, sans other context]

'At' really demands a punctive (non-durative) prepositional object, and 'Christmas', 'lunch', and (more reasonably! ... 15 minutes, as I recall) 'break', and 'hometime', are treated as such here.

Though 'at Christmas' shows that broadening of the punctive into the notionally punctive is often quite acceptable (the duration of 'Christmas' being a movable feast :)), I'd say 'at lunchtime' is more natural sounding than 'at lunch' nowadays. 'During lunchtime' is also perfectly acceptable, but hints at 'at some time during lunchtime'.

  • I looked up isoformal. While it seems to have extensive usage in chemistry, its usage in linguistics seems non-existent. But it's a great word, and understandable in its linguistic context. – rajah9 Oct 25 '19 at 11:52
  • I've used it here before (and addressed queries like yours). I bet OED has the broad definition, 'having the same form'. / In a way it's a weasel-word. Are we talking surface structure, or deep structure number 37? I mean here 'strings 'at X' where X is a noun perhaps metonymically referencing a period, but where the period is being treated as notionally punctive rather than (as it actually is) durative'. Isoformal. Saves a lot of wear on the fingers. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 25 '19 at 12:03

I guess there may be a small ambiguity - it could be (unlikely) construed as asking if the person will be lunching at the library. If you want to make it more precise, you could say 'Are you going to be in the library at lunchtime?'

Of course, this is assuming that both you and your interlocutor understand 'lunchtime' to be noon - there could be confusion if your lunchtime is different from theirs!


It sounds like "the lunch is being served in the library today..." "Are you going to be in the library today during lunch time?"could be a better option.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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