Do You Have Guests For Lunch or To Lunch?

Friends at restaurant have fun.With the Oct. 21 death of fashion icon Oscar de la Renta, news outlets scrambled to get friends, admirers and business associates to comment on his life and work. A young designer whom he had mentored was raving about how open and kind de la Renta was to fledgling designers. The fashion giant apparently was equally gracious to those not in the fashion industry who shared neighboring office space in his building.

“He was always having people for lunch,” the up-and-coming designer said.

My immediate reaction: Oops!

I used to say that I was “having people over for dinner.” Then my mother-in-law, who was not a ruthless editor but who knew her grammar, corrected me:

“You don’t have people for dinner, you have them to dinner. You serve spaghetti for dinner, but you have guests to dinner.”

Even at an early age, I cared about correctness. I didn’t know I was on the path to becoming a ruthless editor, but the correction bore extra weight with me even then. I never forgot it.

How about you? Have you had anyone for lunch or dinner lately?

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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)