make [the?] breakfast/lunch/dinner

kuleshov

Senior Member
Spain Spanish
As you all know, you don't use an article before breakfast/lunch/dinner when these words refer to the event: I never have breakfast.

But according to the 1996 edition of Longman Dictionary of Common Errors, when you use the verbs make or prepare, you can use the or your but not a, so you can say: I'll make the dinner, if you walk the dog.

I typed in make dinner on the British National Corpus and it gave me 4 hits; with make the dinner I didn't get any.

I have the impression that English native speakers use either make dinner or make the dinner interchangeably.

What do you actually say?

Help :confused:
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    In the example you suggested, "I'll make the dinner, if you walk the dog," I wouldn't use the article "the." I would only use it if I were referring to a special dinner, such as a catered event, the meal for a party, or something like that.
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Make the dinner is natural BE.
    The British National Corpus shows me 2 instances of make dinner, 3 of make the dinner - very small numbers.
    The Corpus of Contemporary American English has 153 make dinner, 7 make the dinner.
    This supports the very clear preferences indicated above, and also suggests that AE-speakers make dinner more than BE-speakers.
     

    kuleshov

    Senior Member
    Spain Spanish
    So, can we say that the most frequent expression is:

    make breakfast/lunch/dinner?

    I am asking because even in The New English File Elementary, Student's Book, p 147, we have the expression make the dinner, in the vocabulary bank. Students using this textbook -2004 edition- will get the impression that they have to use the article, whereas in my experience you just don't use the article unless you use an adjective to define the breakfast/lunch/dinner.

    The good news is that in British English you can say make the dinner

    Cheers :)
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I'm reluctant to say this is an AE/BE difference without more evidence, in particular from other BE-speakers, but it appears that if the students are learning BE then the reference book is fine; if they are learning AE they need to know that make dinner is generally more appropriate.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    AE: Make dinner is common. Make the dinner is perfectly good also, but is usually limited to lists of two or more activities. Make dinner, without the article, is also used with lists of activities.

    For what it may be worth...

    Results 1 - 10 of about 35,300 for "make the dinner" -table.
    Results 1 - 10 of about 548,000 for "make dinner" -table

    That is for all sites. Removing .uk sites:

    Results 1 - 10 of about 3,230 for "make the dinner" -table site:-.uk..
    Results 1 - 10 of about 66,400 for "make dinner" -table site:-.uk.


    I confess to confusion at the data. Creative interpretations are invited. While you are interpreting, I'll make the dinner.
     
    Last edited:

    weeshus

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I have the impression that English native speakers use either make dinner or make the dinner interchangeably.:tick:

    What do you actually say?

    Help :confused:
    Either depending on how we feel at the time!! Some examples:
    I am going to make the/your dinner now. I am going to make us all dinner now. Well, if no one else is going to help - I will make dinner. Strangely enough it seems to me to be more natural to include the definite article with lunch and dinner but omit it with breakfast.
    I have spoken to 3 English English speakers and they are thoroughly relaxed with either. However using past tenses people preferred to use the definite article as in I was making the lunch...BUT I made the dinner last night - now you can make breakfast..or even...I made dinner last night, now you can make the breakfast! :rolleyes:
    Regards - I have to go and prepare afternoon tea!! I would never say I am going to prepare the afternoon tea - but I do not really know why!
    Weeshus
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    site:-.uk.
    I confess to confusion at the data. Creative interpretations are invited. While you are interpreting, I'll make the dinner.
    Google's page on the search syntax doesn't say that "minus" can be used in the "site:" filter. It does cause different results (as does "site:*.uk") but since it's undocumented, I won't guess as to what these results mean. Interestingly, the undocumented syntax "-site:.uk" returns many more results than the documented "site:.uk", but not nearly enough to be the result of subtracting the results of "site:.uk" from the total results.
    I also extremely mistrust the comparison of any two queries that only differ by short, common words such as "a", "the", "in", "of" as Google often doesn't consider those words during indexing.
     

    Sylphadora

    Senior Member
    Spanish, Spain
    So "make the dinner" sounds natural in the UK? Wow, I would have never guessed! I always thought it was "make dinner" in both the UK and the US...

    I just took a test and had to guess which one of these two sentences is wrong:


    I make the dinner and you make the beds
    Can I make a question?


    Both sounded wrong to me, because I know it's 'ask a question' instead of 'make a question,' but I felt like 'make the dinner' sounded weird, too. So disappointed that I failed
    :( I just never leart about this particular case in my classes.
     
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    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    So "make the dinner" sounds natural in the UK? Wow, I would have never guessed! I always thought it was "make dinner" in both the UK and the US...
    Make the dinner and make dinner are both acceptable in Ireland (part of the BrE area for the purposes of this discussion) but ''make the dinner'' is probably more common.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Ok, that entry says it is countable or uncountable but doesn't explain what the difference between "making lunch" and "making a lunch" is. All I can conclude is that a single sandwich is "a lunch" and the whole meal is "lunch". Is that right?
     
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