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  1. #1
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Default Letīs have a relaxing chat over (a) coffee.

    Hi,

    Iīd like to have a relaxing chat over (a) coffee with you. The only problem is if we should have it over coffee or over a coffee. You can find oodles of constructions with either phrases. Do the two belong to different varieties of English? Well, it wonīt spoil the coffee, anyway. So, you are welcome!

    Hucky

  2. #2
    Vidor is offline Member
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    Default not a teacher

    no difference

  3. #3
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    Default Re: not a teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by Vidor View Post
    no difference
    I agree.

    I suppose one could argue that suggesting a chat over 'a coffee' might suggest a shorter chat than one over 'coffee'. However, I feel that that would be trying to find a difference where none really exists.

  4. #4
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Default Re: Letīs have a relaxing chat over (a) coffee.

    So, it does not have anything to do with British or American English. For instance, there is a similar distinction between the two varieties: to play (the) guitar / AE (BE). Could it be that one of them is rather the traditional and the other a new version. As just coffee without an article signifies a collective noun, I would have expected to have a chat only over a coffee, i.e. a cup of coffee. But if it is the way you say, I leave it up to you in what form we may chat.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Letīs have a relaxing chat over (a) coffee.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hucky View Post
    As just coffee without an article signifies a collective noun.
    'Coffee' is not a collective noun.

  6. #6
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Default Re: Letīs have a relaxing chat over (a) coffee.

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    'Coffee' is not a collective noun.
    Thank you! But I knew in advance. I wrote so on purpose. I wanted to make you happy once.

    Hucky

    P.S. Joking apart, I meant to write uncountable noun. In spite of the gaffe, both collective nouns, mass nouns (coffee without article and plural) (and in addition abstract nouns) - as they share similar features - fall under the same umbrella term (category) of singulare tantum.

  7. #7
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Default Re: Letīs have a relaxing chat over (a) coffee.

    Something else has come to my mind. It is not very likely - although not impossible - that the two versions have always coexisted, not even in two different varieties. So with some probability one may assume that one of them is older or the original one. Does anyone happen to remember? What makes me think so is inter alia the fact that coffee is an uncount noun here. Moreover, I have checked a number of contextual examples and have found out that most of the over coffee versions go with a second object like coffee and cake/biscuits. Could it be that the non-article version has its origin here?

    And what if we choose a verb of speaking that goes with the preposition over instead of chat/talk? Then weīd have: We debated over (a) coffee. Wouldnīt the non-article version sound as if coffee was the object of the debate?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Letīs have a relaxing chat over (a) coffee.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hucky View Post
    In spite of the gaffe, both collective nouns, mass nouns (coffee without article and plural) (and in addition abstract nouns) - as they share similar features - fall under the same umbrella term (category) of singulare tantum.
    I doubt if many readers of this forum are familiar with 'singulare tantum', a term for a noun used only in the singular form. Whether that term applies to 'coffee' is perhaps a topic for another thread.

  9. #9
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Default Re: Letīs have a relaxing chat over (a) coffee.

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I doubt if many readers of this forum are familiar with 'singulare tantum', a term for a noun used only in the singular form. Whether that term applies to 'coffee' is perhaps a topic for another thread.

    But you are, and that is what mattered to me. Last night I wrote for the luminaries only, just between you and me and the gatepost. You see, I havenīt changed yesterday`s approach yet. I keep bestowing gracious favours to whom it is due.

    In actual fact, it is a terminus technicus in grammar. As far as the mass noun-meaning (I like coffee) is concerned, it is a singular noun. Coffees would mean sorts of coffee, but the two of us should rather chat over coffee (well, Iīd prefer over a coffee, and I feel deep inside, you do so too), not coffees. If it means cups of coffee, Iīd say one coffee between us at a time will do. More would be too much of a good thing.

  10. #10
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Letīs have a relaxing chat over (a) coffee.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hucky View Post
    But you are, and that is what mattered to me. Last night I wrote for the luminaries only, just between you and me and the gatepost. You see, I havenīt changed yesterday`s approach yet. I keep bestowing gracious favours to whom it is due.
    If you wish to write to selected persons only, be they luminaries or not, please send private messages. This is a public forum.

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