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Dinner vs. Diner

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When words have several related meanings, you have to rely on context to parse the meaning of a sentence. When very similar words have similar meanings, the task becomes much harder. Consider the following sentence:

For their annual Christmas dinner, the diners ate dinner at a local diner.

This is a perfectly grammatical sentence, albeit a somewhat confusing one. If it were part of an academic or professional piece, it would need to be rephrased. Still, it illustrates the point that words with more than one meaning can make English difficult to understand. Diner and dinner are nouns with multiple senses that are all related in some way to food. As you can see, this commonality can be a source of confusion. This article will help you decide whether to use dinner or diner, and when each word is correct.

Origin:

Dinner originated from Middle English: from Old French disner.

Dinner as noun:

Dinner is used as a noun in English language where it means the main meal of the day, taken either around midday or in the evening.

Tell the children to come inside; it’s time for dinner.

Diner as noun:

Diner is a noun, with three common meanings. A diner is usually either a person who is eating or a small restaurant serving simple American cuisine.

A diner could also be a car on a train where food is served. These cars are also called dining cars. Due to the popularity of air travel, this usage is growing less commonplace.

Let’s eat at that little diner on 28th and Burnside; I think it’s called Holman’s.

Examples:

The diner at table three finished his meal and asked for the check.

When the train derailed, all the food in the diner spilled, creating a big mess.

She was having dinner at the Malibu, a diner also on 23rd Street that caters to her and her handicapped neighbors. –The Wall Street Journal

I received an invitation to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, but I did not attend.

If she does go out for dinner, it is to a restaurant where she can get something she wouldn’t make at home. –The New York Times

Dinner or diner:

Diner and dinner are similar nouns that all related to food in some way. A diner refers to a person who is eating, a certain type of restaurant, or a train car where food is served. Dinner is an important meal, or a formal gathering around food. You can remember to save dinner for occasions involving a meal by remembering the double N in the words anniversary and dinner. If you still need help, you can always check this article again for a refresher.

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"Dinner vs. Diner." Grammar.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 21 Nov. 2017. <http://www.grammar.com/dinner_vs._diner>.

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