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    • Join Date: Dec 2007
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    #1

    I was wondering...

    Suppose you ask someone to go have a cup of coffee with you, which of the following expressions are consider be correct to use:

    Let's go for coffee./Let's go for a coffee./Let's go for some coffee.

    Similarly,

    Let's go get coffee./Let's go get a coffee./Let's go get some coffee.
    Let's go have coffee./Let's go have a coffee./Let's go have some coffee.

    Also for food:

    Let's go for Chinese/Let's go for some Chinese.

    If in case they are all correct, please point the most popular one(s) and explain the differences if any.


    Thank you

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    #2

    Re: I was wondering...

    They are all correct, and probably equally common.

    The version with "some" implies, I think, that the final goal is not the food/coffee itself, but something else: a night out with friends, a bit of extra energy to keep working, etc. Without it, the coffee and the food is what you really want.


    • Join Date: Dec 2007
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    #3

    Re: I was wondering...

    Quote Originally Posted by abaka View Post
    They are all correct, and probably equally common.

    The version with "some" implies, I think, that the final goal is not the food/coffee itself, but something else: a night out with friends, a bit of extra energy to keep working, etc. Without it, the coffee and the food is what you really want.
    Thank you abaka.

    Your answer was very clear but I have an extra question.
    that is, if it's tea instead of coffee, can you still use all these expressions as well?

    Thank you again.

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    #4

    Re: I was wondering...

    Yes. "Tea" is fine.

    By the way, here's the difference between "a coffee" and "coffee":

    Let's go for a coffee = for one drink of coffee (each).
    Let's go for a hamburger

    Let's go for coffee = let's go drink the stuff, without saying how much
    Let's go for hamburgers

    To make the indefinite article clear, remember that it is etymologically a contraction of "one" and to some extent retains that meaning.

    Note that since a "hamburger" is an intrinsically countable object, so the indefinite form requires a plural. (In the singular countable objects cannot stand alone; they require an article if nothing else).

    "Coffee" is not only shorthand for "one drink of coffee", but also is the name for the measurable but not countable substance. "A can of coffee." So it can stand alone without the article.


    • Join Date: Dec 2007
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    #5

    Re: I was wondering...

    So I can say "Let's go for a tea." as well?
    "Let's go for tea?" and "Let's go for some tea." I can understand, but "Let's go for a tea." somehow doesn't sound right to me.

    I'd like to have your further advice.

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    #6

    Re: I was wondering...

    You can definitely say "let's go for [some] tea".

    "Let's go fo a tea" is... borderline. I don't think it's used very often, although when it is, it has the meaning I described.

    The issue here is a kind of formality level. Properly, of course, "Let's go for a cup of tea/coffee", "a glass of wine/beer", etc. The omission of the container is shorthand; remember that basically all of these liquids are uncountable substances (see above). The omission is also influenced by "let's go for a drink", of any substance.

    So the omission works better (1) the more popular and the less privileged the liquid and (2) the more often it is consumed in a public place, without shame, as the main dish, as opposed to at home or as a complement to the rest of the meal. Therefore:

    Let's go for a coke/pepsi/soda/milkshake <--- very, very common!
    Let's go for a coffee <--- very, very common!
    Let's go for a beer <--- very, very common!

    Let's go for a milk <--- uncommon
    Let's go for a juice <--- uncommon. These two drinks are not usually consumed by themselves.

    Let's go for a tea <--- borderline. Social level. A more "refined" drink.
    Let's go for a whiskey. <--- borderline. home consumption/shame/not casual
    Let's go for a wine <--- ridiculous. Social level.

    The "get a" form is more universal: it works with all of the above. It is still not fully formal, however, and for that reason "Let's go get a Lobster Thermidor" seems a little stange.

    PS (added a little later)

    I had in mind the situation when you are inviting people. The same applies for food:

    Let's go for a sandwich/[ham]burger/steak <--- common
    Let's go for a Lobster Thermidor <--- NOT. Too fancy.

    On the other hand, if you are sitting at the table, ordering the meal or discussing it with your friends, ALL of the above can be used, even for wine or Lobster Thermidor. It just means you're thinking out loud about what you'd like to have. Since you are already there, the "go get" and "go have" forms are not used when ordering: they can be replaced by "let's get" and "let's have".
    Last edited by abaka; 28-Jan-2009 at 21:31. Reason: added postscript.


    • Join Date: Dec 2007
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    #7

    Re: I was wondering...

    abaka,

    Thank you so much for the detailed explanation.
    It's very, very helpful. I can now see the differences 'clearly'.

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