I realise there's a lot of this lately, and I'm about to add to it, but here goes:

Difference between "I am doing lunch" and "I am having lunch"

A perfectly valid question. The single answer given is a start, as is my comment, but put together they are still insufficient and unreferenced. (The poster admits this: "I've answered below with the only meaningful distinction I can think of.") Question closed, as exact duplicate. The "exact duplicate" thread has no mention of lunch in the question, but it's sort of about food-type things. Fine. There is one single answer: it is, equally, a start, but insufficient to entirely answer the question at hand; and it does indeed mention lunch, but only to state that "do lunch", "have lunch" and "eat lunch" are all English phrases. The best advice given is "just learn them one by one" - but nothing is said about their differences.

The most frustrating thing about this is not that none of the five closevoters spent the 10 seconds necessary to realise that the threads were not duplicates and their single answers were insufficient for either question, but that one of those closevoters was also the author of both of these answers. Words fail me.

Please reopen this thread.

  • I don't see the problem with that one. Robusto gave a precise answer, but apparently realised later that he himself had given a more generic answer over a year and a half ago. Do you really want ELU to spent forever going over and over the same ground? Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 0:09
  • @FumbleFingers As I said, what you call the 'generic' answer doesn't even address the question. And the 'precise' answer is a little less precise even than my throwaway comment, which I didn't post as an answer because it was imprecise and unreferenced. There is no cause for closing the question here. The entire force of two threads' worth of "answers" to that question is Robusto's intuition, which doesn't even agree with mine. How about waiting for another opinion, or a reference? Or at least, if you insist that it be closed, find a non-bogus reason to close it?
    – Billy
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 0:59
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    @FumbleFingers Not so. Robusto downvoted (we may conjecture that he remembered having addressed the matter a year and a half ago); and then, after I protested that that answer did not address OP's question, he posted his answer. It's a legitimate question and deserves a legitimate answer - and for the honour of the site an answer that at least consolidates Robusto's remarks with those of other commenters. Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 1:00
  • @Billy: I'm not going to suggest that my understanding of what an idiomatic expression "means" is any more valid than yours. As it happens, I'm with Robusto in thinking "Doing lunch" is slang for meeting someone and having lunch together, and it never occurred to me anyone would think differently. But if you do, why did you not post your with a secondary purpose in mind as an answer? Trivial distinctions like this are unlikely to be found in dictionaries - if you don't post what you think so people can vote on it, why do you expect others to do this? Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 1:28
  • @FumbleFingers I did not post my intuition because, as I said, I did not have a reference yet, and it was only my intuition. I do not consider my intuition an 'answer', but a 'comment', in the plain English meanings of those words. In any case, I am not relevant. The question is not duplicate, and the answer is contentious, incomplete and unreferenced, and now nobody else is allowed to improve upon it. Given these facts, why on earth is this question being allowed to remain closed?
    – Billy
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 1:40
  • @StoneyB: It would certainly help if the OP gave an indication as to what if anything he still wanted clarified after the comments, answer, and pointer to a question addressing the more general point. I just cannot see the point in proliferating questions where there's sometimes a different nuance depending on whether you eat/do/take/touch lunch/lessons/drugs/etc. Maybe in future I should content myself with just anonymously downvoting things I don't want to see here, rather than continually attempting to persuade the unpersuadable to adopt my viewpoint. Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 1:42
  • @Billy: To repeat, I do not think you will find an "authoritative source" distinguishing do lunch from, say, have lunch or eat lunch. But at least if someone goes to the trouble of posting an answer that I disagree with, I might be moved to seek out supporting evidence from actual usage (if that were possible) to back up my natural intuition that my understanding of idiomatic usage generally corresponds with the majority (sometimes, only of UK speakers). Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 1:47
  • ...in this particular case, consider 366 Google Books hits for "have lunch to discuss", as against just 7 for "do lunch to discuss", for example. Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 1:50
  • @FumbleFingers Are you being deliberately difficult? You surely can't seriously expect me, upon stumbling across an answer I disagree with, to immediately start researching and drafting an answer in case the question gets closed in the next half hour. You surely can't consider good answers to questions a priority if you happily condone the closure of legitimate questions 8 hours after they're posted with nothing in the way of an answer except one person's intuition. And, please, why is that question still closed? It's not a duplicate. Better answers may still come. What are you gaining?
    – Billy
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 2:00
  • @Billy: I'd have thought my position was clear by now. I think that question is trivial, and I've no wish to see it or its ilk on ELU. There might be something interesting about the more general case of why we tend to use certain verbs with certain connotations, but that's unlikely to emerge from questions like "What's the difference between doing drugs and taking drugs?". Or “publish in” vs. “publish on”. Out of politeness, such questions should be answered, but they're unlikely to lead to anything interesting. Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 2:21
  • @FumbleFingers How does this differ from what-exactly-are-the-differences-between-diligent-assiduous-and-sedulous? That question is much better in point of research, but it's the same kind of question. Yes, Robusto posted an answer; for the record, I happen to think it's an adequate answer; but that you and four others have decided that's a final and complete answer and there's nothing more which could possibly said seems hasty to me, and to leave it closed on the grounds that it's an Exact Duplicate is just flat wrong. Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 2:22
  • @FumbleFingers The OP at least thinks it's an interesting question; it is not any more or less specific than any other word usage question; it falls within the scope of ELU; Robusto's answer is unreferenced and contested (by me); the given reason for closure is bogus. These are all facts. I cannot, for the life of me, see by what stroke of illogic this results in the question being closed. Nothing about your position is clear to me.
    – Billy
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 2:37
  • @StoneyB: I don't for one moment suppose I'm 100% consistent in my attitudes. If you followed the link in my comment to diligent-assiduous-sedulous, you'll have seen that George Crabb wrote at some length on the matter. Maybe Billy would like to see more such "references", but I must admit I just ended up thinking "this guy is an anal retentive". I don't want to seem rude, but I don't think we're getting anywhere with this whole issue. Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 2:37
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    @FumbleFingers Crabb's fun; I think his problem is rather a superfluity of leisure than a too-scrupulous discrimination (jeez, he's got me doing it); but I don't think a 200-year-old dictionary's gonna help anybody today except editors of Romantic authors. Don't worry about seeming rude; you always seem rude, but you're not. :-) Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 2:46
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    @AndrewLazarus It's a community. Gain enough rep within the community and you can vote to re-open closed questions (and the closers cannot re-vote to close).
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 10:18

1 Answer 1


The question as it stands has multiple issues. It should be closed until it is edited to show the OP's efforts at research, and until the text in question is expanded to show enough context. Until then, the question is both incomplete and nonconstructive.

As for it being a duplicate, the main objection I've seen is that the existing answers over at the other question are inadequate. That never means we should have duplicate open questions. That means we need a better answer over at the other question.

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