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    when do we use "the"?

    A student asked me when we can use "the", and when not. Please look at these examples:
    "She´s at school"
    "She´s at the school"
    "She´s at home"
    "She´s home.
    All these are acceptable English, but we cannot say:
    "She´s at the home".
    We can say: "she´s at the house"

    Some more examples:
    "she´s at her job" (OK)
    "she´s at her work" (OK)
    "she´s at the job/she´s at the work" - not OK.

    What i´m looking for is a rule of thumb for when we use the determiner/article "the"

    Thanks a lot.

  1. mara_ce's Avatar
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  2. I'm With Stupid's Avatar
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    Re: when do we use "the"?

    I would say that you use "the" when referring to a particular building or location. So "the house" is a particular building, whereas "home" is more of a concept that can apply to a particular building (but can equally refer to a country, a town or various other things). The only time when "the home" could be used would be when talking about something like a retirement home, where again, it would be referring to a particular building.

    So for example, if someone you don't know asks you where your daughter is, you would say "she's at school" because the person obviously doesn't know which school, but knows the concept of school. But if a friend or family member asks you the same question, it would be fine to say "she's at the school" because they're probably familiar with the exact school you're referring to.

    And the area where it's perhaps most important is in the hospital example. If you're "going to the hospital," you can either be going to visit, to get treated, for a job interview, or any number of other things. If you're "going to hospital" then you are going for treatment, because people understand the concept of going to hospital.

    I don't know if it's a bullet-proof explination, but I think it's a good general rule.

    Not a teacher.

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