Have dinner or Have a dinner? Which is Correct?

We commonly use the expression “have dinner” (not “have a dinner”) to refer to the main meal eaten either in the middle of the day or in the evening.

We commonly use the expression “have dinner” (not “have a dinner”) to refer to the main meal eaten either in the middle of the day or in the evening.

I had dinner with Alice last night.

However, we need a determiner (a, the, my, your, etc.) when using an adjective in front of the word dinner or speaking about a particular occasion, such as a party dinner, a birthday dinner, a fundraising dinner, etc.

Yesterday I prepared a delicious dinner.

The event was followed by a fundraising dinner.

1. When to Omit the Article

When talking about having a regular meal, we do not normally include the articles “a” or “the” before the word dinner.

I usually have dinner at 7:30 p.m.

We had dinner early.

Follow the same strategy when using other related expressions and phrases, such as “for dinner”, “go out for dinner”, “eat dinner”, “prepare dinner”, “make dinner”, or “cook dinner”.

What's for dinner tonight?

I ate dinner at 11 00 p.m.

There is a range of situations, however, where an article or possessive pronoun should be used.

2. When to Use a Determiner Before ‘Dinner’

When adding an adjective in front of the noun dinner, we need to include a determiner (typically the article “a”) to identify or quantify the noun.

We had a nice dinner last week.

Are you planning a romantic dinner with someone special?

But do not include determiners with generic sentences or statements.

Romantic dinners should be memorable.

Formal dinners are a key part of our institution.

We also need a determiner (a, the, my, your, his, our, etc.) to mention a special occasion, celebration, or event.

A dinner in honor of the laureates was organized by the committee.

All the family turned up for our father's birthday dinner.

In general, use a determiner before compound nouns that contain the word “dinner”.

The dinner menu is served from 06:00 p.m to 09:00 p.m.

The article “the” can be used not only to mention a specific dinner, but also to highlight the food that we ate during the dinner.

The hotel was not great, but the dinner was fantastic.

When talking about various types or collections of dinners, we use the plural of dinner (dinners).

Here are some of our healthy weeknight dinners.

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