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

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  • A90Six

    Senior Member
    England - English.
    Munamoor said:
    Can I ask you out for dinner ?

    do we say for dinner or to dinner, which one is correct ?
    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?
     

    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...
     

    Moogey

    Senior Member
    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.

    -M
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    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.
     

    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.
     

    apblopes

    Senior Member
    Portuguese, Brazil
    Hi.
    Which one is the best choice?
    The people we invited to dinner loved the turkey.
    OR
    The people we invited for dinner loved the turkey.
    Thanks in advance.
     

    GrandBlank

    Member
    English/U.S.
    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.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    Hi.
    Which one is the best choice?
    The people we invited to dinner loved the turkey.
    OR
    The people we invited for dinner loved the turkey.
    Thanks in advance.
    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…"
     

    Lucretia

    Senior Member
    Russian
    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.
     

    apblopes

    Senior Member
    Portuguese, Brazil
    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.
    :D
    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.
     

    xarruc

    Senior Member
    England
    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.
     

    anwal

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

    AWordLover

    Senior Member
    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 ;-)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    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.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    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!!;)).

    Ws:)
     
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