Articles: 'the' or no article

Articles: 'the' or no article

Do you know when you need to use the in common phrases and place names? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see when the is and isn't used.

I'm going to bed.
I walk to work.
My children are going to start school.
I visited the school yesterday.
Mount Everest is in the Himalayas.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Articles 2: Grammar test 1

Grammar explanation

Here are some ways we use articles in common phrases and place names.

Common phrases

We don't usually use an article in expressions with bed, work and home.

go to bed / be in bed
go to work / be at work / start work / finish work
go home / be at home / get home / stay at home

We also don't normally use an article in expressions with school, university, prison and hospital.

start school / go to school / be at school
go to university / be at university
be sent to prison / go to prison / be in prison
go to hospital / be in hospital

But we usually use the if someone is just visiting the place, and not there as a student/prisoner/patient, etc.

My son has started school now. I went to the school to meet his teacher.
I went to the prison a lot when I was a social worker.
I'm at the hospital. My sister has just had a baby.

Place names

We don't normally use an article for continents, most countries, cities, towns, lakes, mountains or universities. So, we say:

Africa, Asia, Europe
India, Ghana, Peru, Denmark
Addis Ababa, Hanoi, New York, Moscow
Lake Victoria, Lake Superior, Lake Tanganyika
Mount Everest, Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Elbrus
Cardiff University, Harvard University, Manchester University

Some countries are different. Country names with United have the. There are other countries which are exceptions too. So, we say:

the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America
the Bahamas, the Gambia

Seas and oceans, mountain ranges and rivers have the:

the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Mediterranean
the Andes, the Himalayas, the Alps
the Nile, the Amazon, the Yangtze

Universities with of in the title also have the:

the University of Cape Town, the University of Delhi, the University of Tokyo

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Articles 2: Grammar test 2

Average: 4.1 (73 votes)

Submitted by bnd on Sat, 11/07/2020 - 10:52

France and _____UK are located on either side of ________English Channel. What will be the appropriate articles for the above mentioned sentence. Please reply .
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Submitted by musa1tt on Thu, 18/06/2020 - 08:16

Thanks a lot that was useful

Submitted by AliMohamed on Sat, 13/06/2020 - 10:15

Dears, thanks for sharing such a useful information, but i got confused about some answers. in grammar test 1 I have added the before Nile and it was a wrong answer although in the explanation below mentioned with "the". the same in test 2 , I have added the before university of Nottingham but it was a wrong answer as well.
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Submitted by Kirk Moore on Sat, 13/06/2020 - 14:04

In reply to by AliMohamed


Hello AliMohamed

The word 'the' must be capitalized ('The') in Grammar test 1 number 4 and in Grammar test 2 number 3 -- sentences in English always begin with a capital letter.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Dilnoza Sulaymonova on Fri, 12/06/2020 - 09:39

Thank you for explanation

Submitted by shiler omer on Wed, 20/05/2020 - 04:41

hello everyone 1st of all thanks for your amazing site . my friend is a doctor and he works in a hospital nearby,so relying on the rule here which says we use the with the places that we are just visitors in not patient,students,prisoners,or workers, there we have to say [[ he goes to hospital everyday ]] it sounds weird and wrong ,though. can I please get an answer.

Hello shiler omer,

The explanation does not talk about workers in these institutions.

We use the definite article when we work in an institution. Thus teachers go to the school, and doctors go to the hospital.

We don't use an article when we are a student (go to school), a prisoner (go to prison) or a patient (go to hospital), as the explanation says.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SakshiJulka123 on Fri, 15/05/2020 - 06:17

Hi Sir! "She believes in the beauty of the soul, not the body." Do we require 'the' before 'soul' as well as 'body'? Thanks. Sakshi