Student or Learner
It is the rule that nouns such as “school, church, hospital, university and the like” are used without any article in adverbial modifiers of place it the place is used to indicate the primary activity going on in that place such as ‘studying’ for school ‘praying’ for church ‘serving one’s time’ for prison and so on.
So we say that someone goes to school and mean that he/she is a student.
But we say ‘Mom went to THE school to pick up my brother’ because she did not go there to study.
How about, if a person works in such a place?
Is it still correct to drop the article and say ‘She works at school/in prison‘ meaning that she is a school-teacher/a warden.
Or do I have to use some modifier and say ‘She works at A school’ (if I do not know which school it is)?
I witnessed a similar discussion sometime ago in which an American argued that you HAD to use some modifier and say ‘She works in/at A school’
Left me still wondering..
Yet they do not use the article in American English when they say that their kids are at school, do they?
Not very consistent (of the Americans)
Whether an article is used or not can depend on whether we know which school is being talked about.
If one lives in an area where there is only one school, we will say 'She works (in)(at) school.' Because there is only one school in the area, everyone will know which school we are talking about.
If one lives in an area where there are many schools, we will say 'She works (in)(at) a school.' We later may tell them which school she works at.
Well, we Americans are consistent among ourselves. Except when we're not. :)
But not in British English?If one lives in an area where there are many schools, we will say 'She works (in)(at) a school.' We later may tell them which school she works at.
Since the discussion was between using an article or not using one, in order to make my point I chose a scenario in which it would be very acceptable not to use an article. Especially if "She" studies and works in the one and only school, it would be correct to say 'She works (in)(at) school.' (you don't have to say '...at the school', although you can)
2...What is said in British English?