leave school/leave the college

GeneD

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1. When I leave school, I want to go to college.
2. He had to leave the college because of bad behaviour.
These are sentences from two different grammar-books.

What I can't understand here is the definite article usage. Why is there an article in the second but none in the first?
 
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teechar

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Why [STRIKE]isn't[/STRIKE] is there an article in [STRIKE]the first one, and there is in[/STRIKE] the second but none/not in the first?
A specific/known/previously mentioned college is assumed/implied in the second.
 

GeneD

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So, in theory, there could be an article in the first, right?
 

Rover_KE

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No. The structure of the sentence is different.
 

Roman55

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GeneD

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I'm afraid I don't understand. :-( But I'll try to guess. Here's the explanation (from the first grammar-book) on sentence #1: "We say a child goes to school or is at school (as a pupil). We are not necessarily thinking of a specific school. We are thinking of school as a general idea." So, in the first example, the pupil is going to leave school in a proper way (which might be the general idea talked about in the quoted explanation from the book), whereas in the second, the leaving is rather an exceptional situation. That's my guess. I can't think of a more suitable explanation at the moment. What do you think of it?
 

Rover_KE

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Your understanding is good.
 

GoesStation

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1. When I leave school, I want to go to college.
2. He had to leave the college because of bad behaviour.

... in the second, the leaving is rather an exceptional situation.
I don't think that's quite right. In sentence 2, the speaker is talking about a specific college which was mentioned previously. Whether the situation is exceptional or routine is irrelevant.
 

GeneD

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I don't think that's quite right. In sentence 2, the speaker is talking about a specific college which was mentioned previously. Whether the situation is exceptional or routine is irrelevant.
And yet I'd like to try to back up my so-called "theory". Here's some further explanation from the same book: "We use prison, university, college and church in a similar way. We do not use the when we are thinking of the general idea of these places and what they are used for. E.g. Ken's brother is in prison for robbery. but Ken went to the prison to visit his brother." The latter examples look similar, to me.
 

GeneD

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But what if the college wasn't mentioned previously? In fact, there is no context in that exercise and we can't really know whether it was mentioned or not.

Let's make up some context ourselves. The pupil's mother is talking to her friend:
1. When he leaves school, he wants to go to college.
Another student's mother talking to her husband:
2. He had to leave the college because of bad behaviour.
The school (in #1) and college (in #2) are equally not mentioned before within this context. And hypothetically the school could be mentioned previously in the first example if needed. In this light, the two sentences look completely the same to me as a non-native speaker. (In fact, they are the same in Russian; hence the difficulty in understanding for me.)

On the other hand, whether the situation is exceptional or routine does seem important to me. Otherwise I can't see the light. :)
 
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emsr2d2

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What no one has mentioned yet is that "He had to leave college" (no article) is perfectly acceptable in the second, in the same way that "When I leave school" is in the first.

The same rule applies to both. If there is a previously mentioned or implied school or college, the definite article is OK. If there isn't, don't use an article.
 

GoesStation

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But what if the college wasn't mentioned previously? In fact, there is no context in that exercise and we can't really know whether it was mentioned or not.
The presence of the definite article tells us the college has been mentioned.
 
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