Lesson 6a - Prepositions (in the context of meals)

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Common Mistakes in English - Những Lỗi Thường Gặp trong tiếng Anh

Lesson 6a - Prepositions (in the context of meals)

Common mistakes in English, Prepositions (in the context of meals), part 1

At lunch today, my son said: “Mama, I want a muffin.”

Without thinking, I told him: “We don’t have any muffins. Maybe I’ll make some later, and you can have one for dinner.”

After a second, I realized I had made a mistake, and I had to correct myself.

I didn’t want to tell him that he could have a muffin for dinner.

I wanted to tell him that he could have a muffin after dinner.

Do you understand the difference?

What was Jennifer’s mistakes?

I said: “You can have a muffin for dinner.”

That means you will only eat a muffin. There won’t be any other food.

I meant to say or I want to say “You can have a muffin after dinner.”

In other word, “You can eat your dinner first. Then you can eat a muffin.

Let’s think together: How are these statements different?

You can eat a muffin at dinner.

You can eat a muffin before dinner.

You can eat a muffin after dinner.

You can eat a muffin for dinner.

You can eat a muffin with (your) dinner.

Let’s look at the first statement:

You can eat a muffin at dinner.

This means “You can eat a muffin at dinner time.”

When it’s time for dinner, you can have the muffin. You cannot eat it earlier.

So “at + meal” is emphasized the time of day.

We can break a day in three times, three periods: at breakfast, at lunch, and at dinner.

“At dinner” is telling you to wait until the last period of the day, the last meal of the day.

Now let’s consider the other prepositions and their meanings.

You can have a muffin before dinner, means first you can have a muffin, you eat it  and now you can have dinner.

You can have muffin after dinner, mean first to eat this, and then you can have a muffin.

You can have a muffin with (your) dinner, that means you can have all together.

You can have a muffin for dinner, that means that’s all you get for dinner, this is dinner.

Note: It’s always important to understand the whole situation. Why?

Because sometimes a preposition can have more than one meaning in order to understand the meaning you need to understand whole the situation.

Also, if it’s possible to use more than one preposition, you need to know the whole situation in order to choose the best one.

Here are some examples for preposition multiple meanings.

Situation A

Son: I want a muffin for breakfast.

Mother: That’s all? You have to eat more. How about a banana and some juice to go with that muffin?

Here “for breakfast” means as my breakfast, I want a muffin to be my breakfast.

Situation B:

Son: Did you bake muffins? Can I have one now?

Mother: No, they’re for breakfast tomorrow morning. You had a good dinner. It’s time to go to bed now.

In this situation “for breakfast” means “the muffin is being saved for breakfast, it meant for breakfast tomorrow morning not for now.

So what is talking about what is meant “for” or what is intended “for”.

Now look at examples of having more than one correct preposition complete the sentence.(with and at)

We eat bread with (our) dinner.

We eat bread at dinner.

Both sentences are correct and when these sentences stand alone, they mean basically the same thing.

Now look beyond the sentence level: understanding the whole situation.

Situation A:

We eat bread with our dinner almost every day. It tastes good with soup, and it helps us clean our plate if there’s a delicious sauce.

In this situation, “with” is the best choice, because we are talking about things that we eat together, bread with tasty soup and go with delicious sauce.

[dich]Situation B:* Tình huống B [/ich]

We eat bread at lunch and dinner, but not at breakfast. In the morning we only have time to drink juice or coffee.

Here the best choices are “at”, because the focus is on mealtime.

The period of the day during we eat bread.

Now let’s try exercises.

Exercise 1: Choose the preposition that best completes the statement.


Read the entire situation itself and then tell your answer.

Child: What are we having (with/ for) dinner, Mom?

Mother: Roast beef, mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob.

Child: Ym!

1. Read the statement yourself first:

(Before/ after) the fried chicken and biscuits, Grandma served blueberry pie. I was so full by then, but the pie smelled so good. I couldn’t say no.

Answer: after.

2. I don’t like to eat much in the morning, so I usually have yogurt (at/ for) breakfast.

Answer: for.

“At” is possible, but it’s not the best choice. “For” tells us that the speaker only eats yogurt.

3. Steve usually continues to work (at/ for) lunch. He sits at his computer and eats something quickly.

Answer: at

4. I like to drink cold juice (with/ at) a hot breakfast. The sweet juice tastes extra nice when you’re eating salty foods like eggs and bacon.

Answer: with.

5. I try not to snack (before/ after) dinner because I don’t want to spoil my appetite.

Answer: before.
(spoil your appetite = to lose your desire to eat

Exercise 2:

Is the highlighted preposition being used correctly? If not, replace it.


a. Nancy always has the same thing for lunch: a sandwich, juice and an apple. Is it correct? Yes.

b. Nancy always leaves the apple for last. She eats it before her sandwich.

Is the preposition being used correctly? No, we need to say “She eats it after her sandwich”

1. The waiter asked the couple if they wanted some wine with their meal.

Is it correct? Yes.

2. My father likes fresh orange juice at breakfast. It’s the only time of the day he takes the time to squeeze several oranges to get his favorite drink.

Is it correct? Yes, it is.

3. Most American restaurants serve fries for a hamburger. They go so well together.

Is it correct? No, we need to say “the restaurants serve fries with a hamburger.”

4. Cookies are a snack food. You shouldn’t eat them with breakfast.

Is is correct? Well, it’s not incorrect.

You can say that but I would argue that it’s depending on the situation.

It’s more natural to say either “you should eat for breakfast” or “you should eat at breakfast”.

5. On Thanksgiving Day, Americans roast a turkey for their family dinner.

Is it correct? Yes.

End of part one. Please go on to the next part of this lesson.

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