[Grammar] Usage of prepositions 'for' and 'to' with the word 'dinner'

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northpath

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I know that when it comes to foods, the preposition ‘for’ should be used:
1. What do we have for dinner today, granny?
2. I think fish would be preferable to meat for dinner.

But when it comes to people, the preposition ‘to’ is used most of the time:
3. I think we should invite them to dinner next Sunday.
4. It’s not like Stephan to be late to dinner.
5. How long is it to dinner?
6. Would you come to dinner next Sunday?
7. It's very nice of you to invite us to dinner.

But from time to time come across the preposition ‘for
8. OK, children, turn the TV off and come for dinner.
9. If we hurry up we'll be in time for dinner.
10. We got there just in time for dinner.
Are these preposition interchangeable in these contexts or there is some rule of thumb?
 
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Skrej

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They often can be interchangeable, but not always. I'm not aware of any rule you can apply.

In your examples, #'s 3,4,6,7 and #8 are interchangeable, at least in AmE.
 

GoesStation

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To doesn't work in #5. I'd use ​till.
 

Raymott

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"We're having the missionaries over for dinner," said the cannibal.
 

teechar

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I know that when it comes to foods, the preposition ‘for’ should be used:
That's correct, as in #1 and #2.

But when it comes to people, the preposition ‘to’ is used most of the time.
It's not when it comes to people; it's when "dinner" refers to the event/occasion rather than to the actual food.
That's the case with #3-#7.

But from time to time, I've come across the preposition ‘for’ as in:
8. OK, children, turn the TV off and come for dinner.
It's a reference to the food in that sentence.
9. If we hurry up we'll be in time for dinner.
10. We got there just in time for dinner.
In #9 and #10, "for" is part of the set expression "in time for."

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/in-time?q=in+time+for
 

northpath

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So, with cases #3-#7 the preposition 'to' is preferable?

And I also found on the Internet this rule of thumb – if I invite somebody to have a meal in my house, then the preposition ‘for’ should be used. But if I invite somebody out to have a meal, then the preposition ‘to’ should be used. I’m not sure it’s correct.
 

emsr2d2

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Would you like to come to dinner at my house? :tick:
Would you like to come for dinner at my house? :tick:

Would you like to go out to dinner with me tomorrow evening? :tick:
Would you like to go out for dinner with me tomorrow evening? :tick:

As you can see, they all work in BrE.
 
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