Can I ask you out <for, to> dinner?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Munamoor, Aug 7, 2006.

  1. Munamoor New Member

    Can I ask you out for dinner ?

    do we say for dinner or to dinner, which one is correct ?
  2. A90Six Senior Member

    England - English.
    I have never used either phrase, but for general usage I should think that either would be acceptable.
    Slightly more correct would be change can to may and to use to instead of for. For could in some instances give the ambiguous sense that A is done in exchange for B.

    May I ask you out to dinner?
  3. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    I prefer:
    - we had beans on toast for dinner, and
    - we had my mother to dinner,
    but you sometimes hear 'we had my mother for dinner'.
  4. skatoulitsa

    skatoulitsa Senior Member

    Greek, Greece
    I think "for dinner" ususally refers to the food. "What did you have for dinner?"
    "to dinner" is used when you ask someone out. "Can I take you out to dinner?"

    This is the usual but there are exceptions. Like you say "I had my friends over for dinner". I don't think you would say "I had my friends over to dinner". It doesn't sound good to me for some reason...
  5. Moogey Senior Member

    New Jersey, USA
    USA English
    To me, the sentence is borderline a request for permission. "I request your permission to take you out to dinner" (by the way, I'd use to)

    Would you like to go out to dinner? is what I'd say. I think it has nice, pleasant qualities about it. I think it can be used with friends and with romantic partners (although the way it's said would be different for each). Also, I think "for" works well here, but it sounds a little bit less "special" to me.

  6. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    We are going out for dinner tonight.
    It would never occur to me to say
    We are going out to dinner tonight.
    We're having the Stewart's for lunch on Sunday.
    Yes, I know the possibilities for witticism, but that's what we would say just the same.
    When I phoned them, I didn't invite them to lunch, but for lunch.

    They were invited to our house for lunch.
    More generally, to the venue, for the purpose. Dinner is the purpose, not the venue.

    The terminology changes if the dinner is a grander event with more people involved. I would expect to be invited to a black tie dinner with lots of tables.
  7. epovo

    epovo Senior Member

    Spanish Spain
    If I say "Hannibal Lecter is having me for dinner tonight", will I ever have breakfast?
  8. nome1984

    nome1984 Member

    China Chinese
    I think here we must notice the verb "ask", because there is a phrase, which is ask sb. for sth.
    So I think "Can I ask you to dinner" would be better.
    This is merely my opinion, open to discussion.
  9. "I had friends over for dinner last night. As they were leaving they invited me to dinner at the Country Club on Saturday."

  10. epovo

    epovo Senior Member

    Spanish Spain
    concise and clear, LRV
  11. Celador

    Celador Senior Member

    English / Scotland
    How about:

    • I invited her to dine (with me).

  12. :thumbsup: Celador.

    That is the way we use it in Court Circles. :D

    There is an entertaining programme on Channel 4, "Come Dine With Me" - featuring 5 people playing host to each other in their homes. The best 'dinner provider' wins a cash prize.

  13. apblopes Senior Member

    Portuguese, Brazil
    Which one is the best choice?
    The people we invited to dinner loved the turkey.
    The people we invited for dinner loved the turkey.
    Thanks in advance.
  14. Sallyb36

    Sallyb36 Senior Member

    Liverpool UK
    British UK
    to dinner
    The people we invited to dinner sounds best.
  15. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    English / England
    Hi - in my eyes this is very marginal -- you could use either.
  16. GrandBlank Member

    In the US, "for dinner" is more common, I'd say. Perhaps another AE-BE difference? However, "to dinner" is also heard and would not sound odd.
  17. maxiogee Banned

    I'd grudgingly advise "to", but would rather you rephrased it to "Our dinner guests loved the turkey."
    "The people we invited" sounds very contrived and strange.
    To whom is the sentence addressed? Do they know the people in question?
    — If they do, use their names —> "Mary and John loved the turkey we served at dinner."
    — If they don't, have the dinner and the guest already come up in the conversation? If they have, then I would just use "the people we invited…"
  18. Lucretia Senior Member

    Invite somebody for dinner reminds me of that notorious African ruler who had 12 ministers to dinner and one for dinner, served with rice and celery.
  19. apblopes Senior Member

    Portuguese, Brazil
    That was good!
    But by the answers of the natives, I guess that, yes, we have here another subtle difference between AE and BE preferences.
    Thank you all.
  20. Are the following all right?

    1. invite someone to dinner
    2. invite someone to a dinner
    3. invite someone for dinner
    4. invite someone for a dinner
    5. invite someone to dine
    6. someone was invited to dine

    Thank you in advance.
  21. xarruc Senior Member

    1. invite someone to dinner
    Emphasis on sharing time over a dinner
    2. invite someone to a dinner
    Emphasis on the event
    3. invite someone for dinner
    Identical to 1.
    4. invite someone for a dinner
    Same as 2., though perhaps has the nuance that that person will be more important than the other guests - that their presence will make it "a dinner"
    5. invite someone to dine
    The verb "to dine" is not really used alone any more, this make it sound like you're inviting them to start eating (e.g. after grace the guests were invited to dine (a bit formal/old-fashioned))
    6. someone was invited to dine
    As above, though here it sounds to me like only one person was invited to dine, whilst the remainder had to wait before starting.

    "To dine" is still used as "to dine on", though it is a bit formal or old-fashioned: He dined on roast venison. Also "to dine with". I was dining with Jenny and Bob last week. Again is a bit formal. Most people I know use "to eat" or "to have dinner".

    While we're at it:

    "to lunch" is still used. Not as exclusively formal as "to dine", but perhaps still a little posh
    "to sup" is not used at all.

    Dinner for me can be midday or evening, providing it's the main meal of the day, yet all the 6 phrases given would make me think of an evening event.
  22. It' super, thank you very much!
  23. eddiemel7778 Senior Member

    São Paulo
    Hi there guys!

    Which preposition is better to use in the following sentence?
    "I have invited them for/to dinner"
    Thanks in advance.
  24. mickgreen58 Senior Member

    Irving, Texas
    Sounds more natural to say:

    "I have invited them to dinner"
  25. languageGuy Senior Member

    Kansas City, MO
    USA and English
    I agree, unless you are talking to cows and plan on eating them. :)
  26. anwal

    anwal Member

    I think you could use either. I do agree with mickgreen58 that "I have invited them to dinner" sounds more natural.
  27. maxiogee Banned

    "for" is only used in saying "I have invited them to join us for dinner".
  28. AWordLover

    AWordLover Senior Member

    Atlanta, Georgia USA
    USA English
    To and for are both heard and understood in this context. To be best understood use to, to introduce the possibility of additional wordplay use for.

    It is a standard ambiguous statement for us cannibals to have honored guest for dinner ;-)
  29. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Please have a look at the posts that have just arrived at the beginning of this thread. Today's question has been attached to a composite thread on the to dinner/ for dinner topic.
    There's lots of good reading back there.
  30. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    Dr LECTER : I do wish we could chat longer but....I'm having an old friend for dinner (last scene in Silence of the Lambs).
  31. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    A more recent thread, If you want to invite someone..., ostensibly on a different question, ended up discussing the 'for/to' issue. This post continues that discussion, but I felt it was better placed here.

    One point that doesn't seem to have figured much (in this or the other thread) is what's in the rest of the sentence.

    I would instinctively invite Jack to dinner, just as I would invite him to a meeting or to a party (even at my place).
    However, equally instinctively, I would invite Jack round for dinner, or over for dinner; also I would invite him to stay for dinner.

    I'd never thought of it before, but I guess I'm using 'to' in the first example because it represents the idea of movement (Jack going from wherever he is to wherever the event is taking place). Coming close on the heels of 'invite', I suppose the immediate thought is "Where?".

    Whereas in the 'for' examples, the idea of where he's going to be is already covered by 'round', 'over', 'stay'; so the implicit question is then "What for?".

    I'm not suggesting that any of that constitutes a rule or even a strong justification. But perhaps the use of 'to' or 'for' relates to whether the predominant idea is "where" or "what for". (I won't go so far as to suggest that BE speakers are more concerned with where they're going, and AE speakers with why they're going!!;)).


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