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  1. #1
    Steven Zhu is offline Newbie
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    Go to zoo or go to a zoo

    Dear sirs:

    The following sentence, abstracted from a textbook of English published in China, was used by the author as an example for error correction.

    When the case was closed the lawyer decided to take an off day and went to zoo with his little boy.

    The author stated that the phrase "an off day " in the sentence is not right, and it shall be changed into "a day off". But information in the Internet shows that the phrase "an off day " are extensively used by native English speakers. So, my question is: Is the phrase "an off day " acceptable.

    In the sentence, we can find that the author used a phrase "went to zoo". As we know, a singular countable noun shall be used in a sentence with an article. Of course, a singular countable noun can be used with zero article, such as go to bed, go to school, and go to hospital etc. But I have never seen such a phrase as "go to zoo". So, my question is: Is the phrase "go to zoo" acceptable?

    The usage of zero article is a big problem for our non-native English learners, though I have spent a lot of time to try to command the uses, I don't know how to use zero article properly, because systematical description about it is not available.

    Looking forward to your replies.

  2. #2
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    masuas is offline Key Member
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    Re: Go to zoo or go to a zoo

    When the case was closed the lawyer decided to take a day off and went to the zoo with his little boy.

  3. #3
    Steven Zhu is offline Newbie
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    Re: Go to zoo or go to a zoo

    Masuas:

    I don't think your use of an definite article before the word zoo in the sentence is proper.

    Maybe, there is only one zoo in the city where the lawyer lives, but readers have no idea of it, in this case, an definite article can't be used.

    Only when the author and his readers know exactly which zoo it is, can an definite article be used. Otherwise, only an indefinite article can be used.

  4. #4
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    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Re: Go to zoo or go to a zoo

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Zhu View Post
    Masuas:

    I don't think your use of an definite article before the word zoo in the sentence is proper.

    Maybe, there is only one zoo in the city where the lawyer lives, but readers have no idea of it, in this case, an definite article can't be used.

    Only when the author and his readers know exactly which zoo it is, can an definite article be used. Otherwise, only an indefinite article can be used.
    We usually say "went to the zoo" even if there is more than one. In the same way we say "we went to the cinema (movies)" even if there are several cinemas/movie theatres in town.
    The expression "to have an off day" is correct but it doesn't mean the same as "to have a day off". An "off day" is a day in which everything goes wrong.

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Go to zoo or go to a zoo

    How about a comma after closed?

  6. #6
    Steven Zhu is offline Newbie
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    Re: Go to zoo or go to a zoo

    I don't think a comma after closed will make any difference.

  7. #7
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    Re: Go to zoo or go to a zoo

    In AmE, "went to zoo" sounds like pidgin English and using that phraseology would brand you as a non-native speaker. Even if there were several zoos from which to choose, you would still say "went to the zoo" and if clarification was necessary (if someone asked "which zoo?"), you could subsequently clarify "the Bronx Zoo."

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Go to zoo or go to a zoo

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Zhu View Post
    I don't think a comma after closed will make any difference.
    Many would put one there.

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