“The” with Places

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Welcome to your “The” with Places lesson! In this topic we talk about:
• Nouns with and without “the”
Other nouns
Bed / work / home
The sea
Take the quizzes when you’re ready! If you’re having problems, use the comment box to contact our English Teachers.

Nouns with and without “the”

Compare “hospital” and “the hospital”:

James went for a run and twisted his ankle, so he had to go to hospital. He’s in hospital now, and he should get out of hospital on Friday.”

We say that someone went to hospital when they have had an accident or they are sick. We are not necessarily thinking of a specific hospital.

Brian’s wife works in the hospital in Southampton. Yesterday he went down to the hospital to visit her on her lunch break.”

In this case, Brian is not a patient in hospital. He is going to a specific hospital to visit someone.

Other nouns

We use school, prison, church, university and college in the same way. We use “the” when we are thinking about a specific place, and we don’t use “the” when we are thinking about the general idea of these places:

Without “The” With “The”

In France, school is from Monday to Friday.”

I went to the school to see my daughter.”

He was found guilty of burglary and sent to, prison for three years.”

The prison in Manchester is very nice.”

When I leave school I want to go to, university.”

My best friend goes to the university in Nottingham and is studying geography.”

With most other places we use “the” in every situation. (“the bank”, “the post office”, “the cinema”)

Bed / work / home

We say “go to bed”, “in bed” etc. (not “the bed“):

“It’s late, I’m going to bed.”

“Where’s Bob?” “He’s still in bed.”

However, we do say:

She sat down on the bed.”
(a specific piece of furniture)

We say “go to work”, “be at work”, “start work”, “finish work” etc. (not “the work“):

I was sick so I didn’t go to work.”
(not “the work“)

What time do you finish work today?

We say “go home”, “at home”, “arrive home” etc. (not “the home“)

I’m so tired! Let’s go home.”
(not “the home“)

Can I call you at home tomorrow?

The sea

We say “go to sea”, “be at sea” etc. when we are talking about a voyage.

My son is a sailor, he goes to sea for months on end.”

The cruise was great, we were at sea for three weeks.”

However, when we are not talking about a voyage, we use “the”:

My grandmother has a house by the sea.”

I don’t like swimming in the sea.”

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