niedziela, 12 sierpnia 2012

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Today, let's look at meals.  In the English-speaking world, we have about six terms to designate certain kinds of regular meals in relation to the time of day.  These are: breakfast, lunch, supper, dinner, tea and brunch.

Generally, these are used without an article (a, an, the), as in the following examples:

It's one o'clock--time for lunch!
I had dinner yesterday with my best friend.
First he has breakfast, then he goes to work.
Would you like to meet Sunday for brunch, say, around 11?
What time do you eat supper?
Who's going to make breakfast?
Come over tomorrow for tea.

We use an article if we are talking about a very specific experience, or a special event, associated with one of these meals.  Examples:

Do you remember the breakfast we had together in New Orleans ten years ago?
I've been invited to a special dinner at the Ritz Hotel.
The lunch I had yesterday was really exceptional.

Breakfast is usually the first meal of the day, no matter what English-speaking country you are in.  Traditionally dinner, similar to Polish obiad, was served in the middle of the day and was the main meal.  In England, tea is a light meal served at the end of the work or school day.  The traditional English sequence was breakfast, dinner and tea.

However, in America the term supper was generally used for the evening meal.

Modern living has introduced some changes in the meal schedule.  With most people working or going to school all day, it is more common for them to take a light meal in the middle of the day and the main meal in the evening.  The light midday meal is usually called lunch, and the main evening meal dinner (although some continue to call it supper).  In the US, most people have lunch between 11 am and 2 pm, depending on their work schedules.

The most recent addition to the meal schedule is brunch.  This is a combination of breakfast and lunch and is usually a big meal (bigger than either breakfast or lunch taken separately) served between 11 am and 1 pm, generally on a Saturday or Sunday.  

In Poland, we often have what is called second breakfast (drugie śnadanie), but in the US this would be called either lunch or a mid-morning snack.  A snack is a small meal taken between normal mealtimes.

The same grammatical rule used for breakfast, etc. is applied to dessert, when we speak of it in a general way and we're not thinking of anything specific.  See these examples:

Okay, we've finished dinner--let's have dessert.
What's for dessert?
Jane never has dessert--she's trying to lose weight.

But:

This cake makes an excellent dessert.
I learned how to make a great dessert from a cooking show.
The dessert I had at Wierzynek was very rich.


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