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Thread: use of "the"

  1. English learner

    use of "the"

    Can anyone explain the reason why "the" is used in some cases and not in others? I don't think the meaning of the sentence changes.
    "People go skiing in the winter." "People go skiing in winter."
    Is there a slight difference? I know British English doesn't use "the" when referring to being hospitalzed, "He is in hospital" instead of "He is in the hospital."
    Am I wrong if I don't use "the" or if I use it??

  2. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
    • Posts: 1,552

    Re: use of "the"

    In the first example, there's almost no difference at all.

    In the second, "the hospital" would be a definite hospital -- we use "the" to mean, "you know which hospital I am talking about". If you tell me that Jim is in the hospital, you assume that I know where to find him without having to ask any further questions. But if you simply say he is in hospital, it could be any hospital: the point is he is receiving hospital treatment.

    • Join Date: May 2006
    • Posts: 7

    Re: use of "the"

    I don't immediately feel any difference between using the with the seasons, or omitting it, but I'll think some more about it

    I can tell you that when we use the with school, hospital, church, prison, university or college, we are referring to the place/building. We do not use the when we refer to participating in the activity/process of that place.

    He goes to the school every day to deliver milk.
    The governor inspected the prison.

    She goes to school in New Jersey. (She's a student.)
    He was in prison for two years. (He was a prisoner.)

    Unlike British English, In American English we use [I]the[I] in both cases for the word hospital.
    Last edited by AELC; 23-May-2006 at 05:55.

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