Going To Lunch Or Going For Lunch?

Going To Lunch Or Going For Lunch?

Going To Lunch Or Going For Lunch?

Grammar can be tricky, especially when forming the perfect expression. For example, do you say I’m going to lunch, or I’m going for lunch!

Well, it turns out that neither of these sentences is wrong, but there are different ways to phrase them to ensure you sound right. Now look at the possibilities below!

Oxford Dictionaries

The confusion over whether to use going to or going for with lunch is a common one. To help clear things up, we asked Oxford Dictionaries.

The phrase going for a meal is more common in British than in American English. However, it is used in both varieties. Going out for a meal is also heard occasionally.

The main verb here goes, meaning ‘to travel or move to a place, and the preposition indicates the journey’s purpose.

We would therefore expect the noun that follows to be something that can be eaten or drunk, such as a meal, coffee, or beer.

But lunch cannot be eaten or drunk: it refers to a mid-day meal, usually consisting of sandwiches, soup, pasta salad, etc.

Therefore going for lunch sounds wrong (although this usage has been found).

Conversely, going to lunch should sound fine. In practice, if you are going for a meal, you could say I’m going out instead of going for a meal.

Cambridge Dictionary

There’s also no denying that the English language is perplexing. Even native speakers cannot always agree on how to say something.

The answer may surprise you. People are more likely to go to formal situations such as business meetings and conferences.

But in everyday life, most people prefer going for. You’re much more likely to hear this at home with your family or out with friends than at work with colleagues.

Here’s how Cambridge Dictionary explains it:

It’s generally ‘going to’ if the event is definite (e.g., I’m going to take my holiday tomorrow) but ‘going for’ if it’s less specific (e.g., I’m going for a walk later).

Let’s explore some examples!

When someone says I’m going to lunch, they could be referring to either going to another place or going for food.

For example, someone might tell their friend; I’ll meet you at the restaurant next door. When someone says I’m going for lunch, they usually want food and are not meeting anyone there.

They might say something like; I need something quick, so I’ll go for lunch.

Which one is correct?

In recent years, the phrase going for lunch has become more popular than going to lunch.

To go can be either a transitive verb meaning to walk (or travel) to a place or an intransitive verb meaning to move in some direction. These two meanings are related but not identical.

If you are walking to a place, you have arrived at it, and if you are moving in some direction, you have not yet arrived at it; so the first sense of going is intransitive, and the second sense of going is transitive.

Going to lunch means traveling by foot towards lunch, whereas going for lunch implies reaching your destination at the end of your journey. 


In business, lunch is serious business. It can be a working lunch, a networking lunch, a power lunch, or simply a break from the daily grind.

Sometimes we say going to, and sometimes we say going for. In many contexts, either option is correct to make things more confusing.

Below are some sentences under which these terms are used:

I’m starting today! I think I’ll go for lunch today. (The speaker wants to eat)

If you require anything before I leave, just let me know, and I’ll get it for you. (The speaker will do something for someone else)

I hope this sandwich has enough protein because I’m feeling hungry now! (the speaker feels hunger) 

What’s the difference?

There is sometimes more than one way to say something in English, which can confuse.

Well, going typically means trying to do something with a sense of purpose. As in, I’m going to eat breakfast.

And going for means trying to find something or chasing after it with intent, as in I’m going for food.

The verb phrase to go has several meanings depending on the context, but they are all similar (to start towards a goal). The nuance between these two phrases is their urgency.

If someone uses going to, they are likely not in any particular rush, while going for conveys speed and determination.

The original question asks whether someone will be eating later at some point; going to would answer this yes while going for would answer no.

New York Times Opinionator William Zinsser’s On Language

We all know that feeling when we’re out with friends, and we’re not sure whether to say I’m going to lunch or I’m going for lunch.

According to William Zinsser’s On Language column in the New York Times, it’s both!

He says that the phrase going to lunch is more common in America while going for lunch is more common in Britain.

But both phrases are perfectly correct. So next time you’re unsure which one to use, go ahead and use whichever sounds better.

You can’t get it wrong because they both mean the same thing. The only difference is how it’s pronounced.

According to Mr. Zinsser, going to has a slightly longer vowel sound than going for.

And as for which version of the phrase originated first, there’s no way of knowing for sure. Still, some linguists speculate that British speakers adopted going after encountering Americans at war during World War II.


After looking at the evidence, both phrases are used interchangeably, and there is no real difference in meaning.

So whether you say you’re going to lunch or for lunch, you’re probably fine. While grammar purists may argue about which one is technically correct, what’s important to remember is that you have a plan for where your next meal will come from either way!