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    #1

    at the university / at university

    Hello! It's been ages since my last visit and there's loooots of new stuff, but I hope that some things never change and it's the help provided here.
    We've always been taught to use the article 'the' with 'university', even when referring to the typical activities here (in contrast to 'at school / church / hospital' etc). Then a different teacher said 'the' is used with 'university' only in British English (??). Later another one claimed it should be always dropped when concerning studies: enter university / graduate from university / at university / go to university / we've got 3 classes at university today ... The same concerns the word 'market'. Now I'm lost and don't know what to believe. Could you please clarify it all? Thanks in advance!!!

  1. Champleon's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: at the university / at university

    Hello,
    I'm not a teacher.

    Places thought of as institutions in general rather than specific buildings are referred to without the definite article: school, church, hospital, university, etc. However, we can use the definite article to mean that somebody is in a place doing an activity, other than that for which the building was built. E.g.: She is at the church. (She is a tourist)

    Colloquially, nobody answers a friend’s question like this: “Where is Luis?” “Luis is at the University of Chicago”. No, he normally says “Luis is at university”. However, when the university is referred to using the preposition “of”, the definite article is used. E.g.: the University of Wales, the University
    of California at Los Angeles, etc. Many universities have both possibilities: London University/the University of London

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    #3

    Re: at the university / at university

    If you are referring to the place, you can use the "the." At least in AmE. For example, if Joe is a professor, his wife may say "Joe is at the university." Meaning he is not home now, he is physically at the school. It is assumed you know which university is being talked about.

    If Joe has just changed positions, one might say "Joe is at the University of Wisconsin now." Speaking more generally one might say "he got a job at a university."

    Same thing if you asked me where I parked and I said "I parked my car at the university and walked over here."

    In AmE a person who is studying is "going to college," or "at college." We don't say "at university" the way they do in BrE for this.

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    #4

    Re: at the university / at university

    Thank you very much, Joaquin García Navarro, for the general rule, and you, SoothingDave, for giving the details of the situation overseas. It's always very important to know not only the theoretical stuff, but also the way the matter stands in reality. Do I understand it right that the definite article is typical of the word 'university' in AmE, and is dropped in the meaning of 'going to college' only in BE? It'll be great to hear somebody from Britain and their point of view on it. Thanks again!

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: at the university / at university

    In BrE, "I go/I am going to university/I am at university" are used to mean "I currently attend university for the purpose of study". The staff work "at a/the university".

    My son goes to school in another town.
    My daughter is going to secondary school next year.
    She teaches at a/the school on the south side of town.
    My cousin is at university.
    My car is parked at the university.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

    • Member Info
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    #6

    Re: at the university / at university

    Thank you so much, dear emsr2d2. I see the situation more clearly now.

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