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buy/order (a) breakfast/lunch/dinner Options
robjen
Posted: Monday, November 13, 2017 3:20:22 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/17/2015
Posts: 394
Neurons: 2,235
I am going to write down six short sentences.

(1) I want to buy breakfast there.
(2) I want to buy lunch there.
(3) I want to buy dinner there.

(4) I want to order a breakfast there.
(5) I want to order a lunch there.
(6) I want to order a dinner there.

I think you don't need an article from (1) to (3).

I don't know why it sounds better to me when I put in an article from (4) to (6).

May I ask two questions?

(A) Do you need the article from (4) to (6)?

(B) Why or why not?

Thanks for your help.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, November 13, 2017 4:05:37 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 27,115
Neurons: 149,215
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hi!

It depends what you mean, really.
One could have all six sentences with an article and all six without. There is almost no difference in the final idea which is communicated.

When you use the 'a/an', you are speaking about one of the choices offered by the café/restaurant.
The word 'an' (usually shortened to 'a') is an old form of 'one'.
So you are ordering 'one of the breakfasts' or 'one of the lunches'.



************
When you use no article, you are being a little more general.
"Breakfast" (no article) is 'food eaten after getting up'.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Romany
Posted: Monday, November 13, 2017 6:26:20 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 13,122
Neurons: 40,026
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

However, I can think of no instance where it would sound "natural" to talk about "buying" a meal.

We usually "get" or "have" a meal. In your first sentences one of those is what we'd use.

As to the "I want to order...." that sounds a little bit weird - because all you are saying you want to do is to ask for (order) a meal there - not that you'd want to eat it! It could be because you'd like to order a meal ...and then run away. Or because you once worked there and now you'd like to give orders for a change. Or because you don't like a particular waiter and you'd like to order him around.

Unlikely, of course, but so is the wish "I want to order a dinner there."
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, November 13, 2017 6:44:18 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 27,115
Neurons: 149,215
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Romany wrote:
We usually "get" or "have" a meal.

Yes - "I'd like to have a breakfast in the Balmoral."
or "I'd like to have breakfast in the Balmoral."

I think the "have breakfast" version would be much more common - though the article would not be wrong, especially if you were referring to one of a choice of breakfasts.

The only time you normally hear "I'd like to order . . ." is when actually speaking to the waiter.

"I'd like to order the Eggs Benedict, please" is the correct (polite) way to say "Bring me some Eggs Benedict, quickly!" (which would never be said in Britain).

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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