Cater - The company will be catering (for) the wedding.

tomelelfo

Banned
Español - Argentina
This question is for American English speakers.

According to Oxford Learner's Dictionary, in British English, people can say "To cater for something/somebody". For example:
* The company will be catering for the wedding.
* The servers will be catering for the guests.
In other words, "cater for" can be used either for events or people.

However, according to this dictionary, in American English, the verb "cater" takes no preposition and it seems that it can only be used with events (something, not somebody). For example:

* The company will be catering the wedding.

My question now is: isn't there any way to use the verb "cater" when referring to people (just like in the British usage)?

Source: cater verb - Definition, pictures, pronunciation and usage notes | Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary at OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com
 
  • Cholo234

    Senior Member
    American English
    However, according to this dictionary, in American English, the verb "cater" takes no preposition and it seems that it can only be used with events (something, not somebody).
    There are probably several ways .
    However, according to this dictionary, in American English, the verb "cater" takes no preposition and it seems that it can only be used with events (something, not somebody).
    I searched the link without finding that "the verb 'cater' takes no preposition.

    Merriam-Webster

    1.cater - give what is desired or needed, especially support, food or sustenance; "The hostess provided lunch for all the guests"
     

    tomelelfo

    Banned
    Español - Argentina
    Hello, Cholo234. Thank you for your contribution in advance.

    It is strange that you could not see the verb "cater" taking no preposition; therefore, I am posting a screenshot so you can see what I mean. In the screenshot you will see the contrast between British and American English usages. I also post a screenshot of an entry from the Cambridge Dictionary.
    Regarding Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, I have not found that example you cited. Could it be possible for you to post a link to that entry? I would be very glad.
     

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    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    [...]

    However, according to this dictionary, in American English, the verb "cater" takes no preposition and it seems that it can only be used with events (something, not somebody). For example:

    * The company will be catering the wedding.

    My question now is: isn't there any way to use the verb "cater" when referring to people (just like in the British usage)?
    [...]

    You can "cater to" someone in American English, but this generally has nothing to do with food, and should be regarded as a different usage than "catering an event," which normally is used by us without a preposition.

    I'm not going to cater to his whims just because he's my brother.
    We're catering a wedding next Sunday.


    In some cases we use a preposition, if the initial verb is not "cater":

    We do all the catering for the company's parties.
     

    tomelelfo

    Banned
    Español - Argentina
    All right, but please tell me, how would you complete this sentence?

    • The servers will cater ____ the guests.

    Is a preposition necessary in that case? I know in British English they can say “cater for”, but I would like to know how they express it in American English.
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    All right, but please tell me, how would you complete this sentence?

    • The servers will cater ____ the guests.

    Is a preposition necessary in that case? I know in British English they can say “cater for”, but I would like to know how they express it in American English.

    We would need a preposition, but it's not really a sentence we would be likely to use. What exactly do you understand it as describing?
     

    tomelelfo

    Banned
    Español - Argentina
    I think I don’t get your point. I’m sorry.

    The aim of this thread is an explanation of why (according to my dictionary) in British English people can use the verb “cater” plus the preposition “for” for both people and events while in American English the verb “cater” (without the preposition “for”) only works with events, not people.

    Check the previous comments if you still don’t understand what I mean. Previously I also posted the source.
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I think I don’t get your point. I’m sorry.

    [...]
    You asked whether "The servers will cater ____ the guests" would require a preposition in American English. The answer is yes, but we can't tell you which preposition, or even if we would use the sentence at all, without some insight into what you think the sentence would mean.
     

    tomelelfo

    Banned
    Español - Argentina
    Well, in “The servers will cater ______ the guests”, the meaning implied is that the servers will be in charge of providing food for all the guests of the event.
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Well, in “The servers will cater ______ the guests”, the meaning implied is that the servers will be in charge of providing food for all the guests of the event.

    As your initial post noted, in the US you can generally only "cater" events. If we did use your sentence with that meaning, we would probably have to use "for." "Cater the guests" isn't something we say here.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    That doesn’t work either. The catering is not done for the guests, but for the hosts. The right preposition is “for,” but we would typically say “do catering for,” rather than “cater for.”

    That company does a lot of catering for my neighbors.

    - How do you know Bob?
    - He’s done some catering for me.
     

    tomelelfo

    Banned
    Español - Argentina
    Why do you mean by “the catering is not done for the guests, but the hosts”? The catering service is for everybody, actually. You pay a company for a particular food service and that company is responsible for providing everybody (either hosts, guests, etc.) with food.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    What I mean is that a catering company provides catering services to the host, not to the guests.

    If I buy a chocolate bar and give it to you, the store sold it to me, not to you, even though you were ultimately the person who consumed it. Similarly, a caterer provides catering services to the host of a party. The guests enjoy the food, etc., but just like the store sold the chocolate bar to me and not to you, the caterer did the catering for the host of the party, not the guests.

    Put another way, the catering is done for the person/party that pays for it.

    Does that help?
     
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    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    That is correct. You can’t cater a person without a preposition, but you can cater an event without a preposition.
    Yeah, maybe it does.
    If anything is still unclear feel free to let me know and I’ll try to explain.
     
    Last edited:

    tomelelfo

    Banned
    Español - Argentina
    Don’t you worry, you’ve been more than clear. In fact, what surprised me was the difference in the usage of cater in American and British English (or at least the usage explained in the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary entry I posted at the beginning of the thread). You should take a look at it and tell me if it surprises you too.
     

    tomelelfo

    Banned
    Español - Argentina
    According to that entry, it seems that the British can use the verb “cater” (in terms of food) to refer to both events and people while Americans seems not to use it to refer to people, only events.

    By the way, you suggested the expression “do (the/some/a lot of/etc.) catering for”. I like it. After “for”, can I only mention people or can I also mention events? For instance:
    •The company is doing the catering for the party.
     
    Last edited:

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Well, the example uses “catering,” not “cater(s)”; “catering” works in US English too, as my examples show. The question is: Would British English speakers say “That company caters a lot for my neighbors” as opposed to “That company does a lot of catering for my neighbors”?
     

    tomelelfo

    Banned
    Español - Argentina
    The examples uses “catering”, but the base form of the verb is “cater” as it is shown right before the beginning of each example.
    I edited the last message of my thread (I don’t know if you noticed it), but I would be glad if you could provide me with an answer to that question.
     

    analeeh

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    In my BrE at least, you can only cater an event. You can cater for or to people, but my immediate reading of both is figurative and has nothing to do with cooking. I'd say the phrasal 'do catering' is more common and definitely feels more natural with people if you're not talking figuratively.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    The examples uses “catering”, but the base form of the verb is “cater” as it is shown right before the beginning of each example.
    Dictionaries always use the bare infinitive as the citation form for verbs. That doesn’t tell you anything about how the verb is actually used.

    There is a German verb, for example, that (to my knowledge) is always used with the auxiliary verb “can.” But dictionaries will only give the infinitive as the citation form. (They may include a usage note about “can,” but I’ve never seen one.) I discovered the thing about “can” through real-world usage. The upshot is that good dictionaries are excellent resources but they never tell the full story: for that, you need to interact with and/or consult native and advanced users of the language (as you’re doing in this thread) and/or research/observe real-world usage (in corpora, audio materials, etc.).

    After “for”, can I only mention people or can I also mention events? For instance:
    •The company is doing the catering for the party.
    Yes, that works.
     

    tomelelfo

    Banned
    Español - Argentina
    In my BrE at least, you can only cater an event. You can cater for or to people, but my immediate reading of both is figurative and has nothing to do with cooking. I'd say the phrasal 'do catering' is more common and definitely feels more natural with people if you're not talking figuratively.
    I find surprising the fact that the dictionary explanation does not correspond to this at all. Why is that?
     
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