I <eat, have, take> breakfast ...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Savoir, Mar 27, 2007.

  1. Savoir Senior Member

    Which is more common?

    e.g. I like to eat breakfast

    I like to have breakfast.

    Is it a regional or personal preference? Any difference in meaning btw the 2?

  2. Hi Savoir,

    I normally say "I like to have breakfast". It is probably a personal preference. There is no difference in meaning.

  3. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    Some very genteel, or mock-genteel, people even say to take breakfast. LRV's advice is excellent, as usual.
  4. Savoir Senior Member

    Thanks, la reine victoria and Thomas Tompion.:)

    la reine victoria, please excuse my net writing.:p

    Here in HK, we've been taught in school to use "have". Many people think "eat breakfast" is a direct translation of chinese, and seldom, if not never, heard of it.
  5. Savoir Senior Member

    I've seen someone on another forum quoting from a dictionary that "eat breakfast" is American English, and "have English" is British. I've seen that the above 2 posters are from England. Do people from the UK and the US agree it's the difference between UK and US English? Thanks.:)
  6. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    As LRV suggests we Brits say to eat breakfast as well as to have breakfast.
  7. Q-cumber

    Q-cumber Senior Member

    I've done a context Google search for both variants. The results are:

    * "eat breakfast" ~ 1 090 000 matches
    * "have breakfast" ~ 1 120 000 matches

    Thus we get nearly equal numbers.
  8. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The question is perhaps more complicated than first appears.
    Whether I eat breakfast or have breakfast or take breakfast depends on the context.

    Let me look for some examples to see if I'm talking rubbish.
    Usual caveats about relying on Google - these are search results, not surveyed usage preferences.
    14,000 for "I eat breakfast
    16,700 for "I have breakfast
    10 for "I take breakfast

    2,670 for "I ate breakfast
    998 for "I had breakfast
    95 for "I took breakfast

    18,100 for "you eat breakfast
    303,000 for "you have breakfast
    4,030 for "you take breakfast

    360 for "you ate breakfast
    787 for "you had breakfast
    2 for "you took breakfast

    24,100 for "we eat breakfast
    243,000 for "we have breakfast
    87 for "we take breakfast

    835 for "we ate breakfast
    27,900 for "we had breakfast
    252 for "we took breakfast

    Edit: I was searching while Q-cumber was posting - but now I'm off to do some toasting. All that talk of breakfast has made me hungry.
    I'm off to get breakfast.

    5,170 for "they eatbreakfast
    6,330 for "they have breakfast
    4 for "they take breakfast

    430 for "they ate breakfast
    107,000 for "they had breakfast
    5 for "they took breakfast
  9. Savoir Senior Member

    Thanks everybody.:)

    Now I've learnt something valuable, trust living people rather than a dictionary.;)

    Panjandrum, thank you for your very detailed search statistics. I've done some google search for different usages myself too, and the nos. for each usuage vary. Sorry to have made you hungry. Bon appetit, maybe time for afternoon tea now.;)
  10. maritza26 New Member

    Is it correct if I say " I take breakfast at 8 in the mornig? meaning that I eat, my collegues at school say to me that I am incorrect that the correct expression is " I have breakfast"
  11. tepatria Senior Member

    Onondaga, Ontario
    Canadian English
    Taking a meal is old fashioned in my part of the world. I have seen it used in literature, so it is not wrong. However, have breakfast is more in use.
  12. Heatslap New Member

    Interestingly, I have followed panjandrum's lead but I have come up with drastically different results with seemingly the exact same criteria. Some of our figures are WAY off (like, hundreds of thousands of hits google hits off). Are his numbers fictional? Maybe, but I doubt it. Could it be that I am using google.com from Japan? I don't know. After removing the irrelavent took, take, here is what I got:
    54,000 for "I eat breakfast
    61,300 for "I have breakfast

    64,300 for "I ate breakfast
    242,000 for "I had breakfast

    186,000 for "you eat breakfast
    96,000 for "you have breakfast

    7,610 for "you ate breakfast
    42,000 for "you had breakfast

    25,700 for "we eat breakfast
    160,000 for "we have breakfast

    84,300 for "we ate breakfast
    321,000 for "we had breakfast

    BTW, I stumbled upon this topic because I teach English in Japan and a Japanese teacher here was under the same impression that they are under in HK, i.e. "eat" is a direct translation to Japanese yet it is hardly used in real English.
  13. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    Greetings, Heatslap,

    Welcome to the forum. :)

    Google results can vary from region to region and from time to time. It is better not to rely on the exact numbers, but use them as suggestive indications of usages.

    Here is a previous discussion of the problem: Using Google "counts" as authority

    This includes links to corpora of English usage that give more reliable results.

    (The above is from the linked guide at the top of the English forum page: READ this before you post: forum rules and some very useful links, too.)
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2009
  14. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)

    As a native AE-speaker, I could say eat breakfast or have breakfast and both would mean the same thing.

    I would never say take breakfast, however.

    PS "eat breakfast" does not sound like "Jinglish/Chinglish" to me at all!
  15. Rational_gaze Senior Member

    British English
    I 'have' my breakfast or I 'eat' it. They're pretty interchangeable, although I'd always say "I haven't had my breakfast yet" rather than "I haven't eaten my breakfast yet", and if I was discussing where to eat, I would usually say "Where shall we have breakfast?"

    I think the Queen probably 'takes' hers.
  16. ReContraMil New Member

    American English and Argentine Spanish
    Thanks, panjandrum, for posting those google searches.

    I'm teaching an English class to adults in India, and I asked them each to hand in a paper describing their day yesterday. All of them wrote things like, "I am wake up and take prayer" or "I take breakfast at 7:15." Besides the fact that it wasn't written in past tense, they used the verb "take" instead of "have" or "eat". Those searches give me the impression that "take lunch" was referring to physically carrying what you were going to have for lunch and taking it somewhere. That's my hope, as that is what I'm going to be teaching the class this afternoon ;).

    I appreciate you all having this discussion!
  17. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    'Take breakfast' (as well as taking medicine, pork, beef, etc.) is not unusual in this part of the world (Singapore/Malaysia). Some more 'dated' usages survive here.
  18. Lachelle Senior Member

    Portuguese - Brazil

    Could I say take breakfast instead of have breakfast?

  19. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It all depends on the context.
    Please provide the full sentence, and tell us more about the setting in which the sentence would appear.
  20. Lachelle Senior Member

    Portuguese - Brazil
    My family and I took a great breakfast after leaving the hotel.

    Could I use "take breakfast" like this?
  21. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    This would be very odd in the U.S. My response would be, "where did you take it?" in the sense of carrying it from your starting point to another location."


    2 carry or bring with one; convey or guide. remove from a place.
  22. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thanks for the extra information.
    I would not use "take" in that setting.

    It has just occurred to me that this question has come up before.

    << Today's posts have been added to the end of a previous thread on this topic. New readers should start from the beginning :) >>
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2011
  23. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    It sounds to me like the sort of thing an aristocrat might use to explain his routine to a new valet : "Jeeves, don't forget, I take breakfast at 8 a.m. sharp!" Not so much of this happening in the 21st century so it sounds very dated as well as "upper-class".
  24. Rival Senior Member

    English - UK
    'Take breakfast' in the sense of eating it, sounds like something Jane Austen might have written. In other words, it sounds very old-fashioned.

    ((( From Wikipedia : Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature ... .)

    Edit : Oops, two other replies while I was typing.
  25. martatova Member

    Sorry, how about "we went home and had some biscuits" v "we went home and ate some biscuits"? Is it interchangeable too??
    Thanks in advance!
  26. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    One can say both, but the emphasis would be different.
  27. SugarSpunSister Member

    Spanish- Argentina
    Could anyone expand on Thomas Tompion's reply to martatova's question? I always get the feeling that it sounds much better to say "I have bacon for breakfast" than "I eat bacon for breakfast".
  28. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I associate have with a meal or a habit or ritual, as opposed to just the act of eating, so I would tend to talk about having rather than eating my breakfast or dinner. When I say, 'I had my sandwiches at 1 o'clock', I am implying that the sandwiches constitute perhaps lunch or a snack or something.

    Maratova's 'having biscuits' is something like a snack to me.
  29. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    English - US (Midwest)
    I like to have breakfast, but I eat breakfast.
  30. velisarius

    velisarius Senior Member

    British English (Sussex)
    It's assumed that one eats one's meals, so there isn't any special need to mention it.
    I have breakfast every morning.
    We were hungry, so we went home and had some sausages.

    If I'm thinking about the process of eating, I may mention it:
    Haven't you had anything to eat today? - Yes, I had an apple./Yes, I ate an apple in the car on my way to work.
  31. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australian English
    I've always preferred 'have' for all meals and thought that maybe on an unconscious level it has to do with the fact that a drink is often included in the meal. We don't 'eat' drinks - we have them. :)
  32. Pondivya Elizabeth M

    Pondivya Elizabeth M New Member

    India - English & Tamil
    The Indian English originates from the British empire before 1947. In our schools (until 1990), we followed the same grammar rules that we were prevalent before 1947. Therefore, the phrase "take lunch" is used due to that influence. Although, most people have moved away from UK english with more multinational corporations making their way here, a majority of the population still follows what has been taught to them in school, which is "take lunch".

    I hope this helps.

    - Divya
  33. velisarius

    velisarius Senior Member

    British English (Sussex)
    ..."the impression that "take lunch" was referring to physically carrying what you were going to have for lunch and taking it somewhere.

    I don't agree with that explanation from ReContraMil.;) I always assumed that to "take lunch" had its origin in "to partake of lunch".

    That is an interesting post.:) Welcome to the forum, Pondivya.
  34. Pondivya Elizabeth M

    Pondivya Elizabeth M New Member

    India - English & Tamil
    Thank you! :) I too assumed that to be the origin of "take lunch".

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