Let's go out to/for dinner?

  • RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    For me, it depends on how I'm using the term.

    "We're going out to dinner next Friday."
    "Let's go out for dinner tonight - it's too hot to cook."
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Member Emeritus
    English - England
    To go out to dinner usually means that one is invited somewhere, so it's not something one can spontaneously undertake.

    To go out for dinner usually means that one decides to go out, rather than stay in and prepare food at home,

    For these reasons I'd be more likely to say 'Let's go out for dinner'.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    The "over" examples mean the person was invited to Tom's house, right? While the "out" ones imply a restaurant, right? If so, which forms do you prefer? "To dinner" or "for" dinner?

    Tom invited me over to dinner and don't know what to say.
    Tom invited me over for dinner and don't know what to say.

    Tom invited me out to dinner and don't know what to say.
    Tom invited me out for dinner and don't know what to say.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    The "over" examples mean the person was invited to Tom's house, right? While the "out" ones imply a restaurant, right? If so, which forms do you prefer? "To dinner" or "for" dinner?

    Tom invited me over to dinner and don't know what to say.
    Tom invited me over for dinner and don't know what to say.

    Tom invited me out to dinner and don't know what to say.
    Tom invited me out for dinner and don't know what to say.
    Invitations are generally for an activity or to an event or place. Meals usually use "for" in modern English. unless it is a formal occasion, in which case it would probably be given a name or a description. This does not mean that "for" is used with every verb, and you can certainly go out to dinner, as has been explained above. I have a feeling that "to" used to be more widely used than it is now.

    "Over" means to Tom's place. "Out" probably means a restaurant.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    And would it matter if he invited me to strictly dinner, that is, a meal, or to an event including dinner?

    He invited me over to/for dinner.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think "for" sounds more casual than "to".

    The rise of "for" might come from the fact that casual dining has risen greatly over recent decades (I think). I believe in the past it was the norm for families to mostly cook and eat dinner at home. Going out to dinner was often an "occasion". Now it's not so special much of the time. It's routine for many people. So they make the decision to go out to a restaurant "for" this meal instead of cooking. They haven't been invited "to" anywhere and don't have any special occasion planned.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    So if some colleagues go out to eat something quickly during their break, they might go "for dinner", whearas if I was invited to a celebration because of some anniversary with elegant clothes on, I would go "to dinner", right?
     
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