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

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

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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
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Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 15/05/2020 - 07:17

In reply to by SakshiJulka123

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Hello Sakshi,

You need to use the before soul here. If you do not, it sounds like you are talking about soul music - the music of James Brown and Otis Redding. Music styles (blues, jazz, soul, pop, rock etc) do not take articles.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for your clever explanation. Actually I believe in the beauty in soul! ღ˘◡˘ற♡.。oO

Submitted by Lia Paiva on Sun, 10/05/2020 - 14:36

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It was considered wrong to use the United Kingdom above? Why?

Hello Lia Paiva,

I think you've misunderstood the information on the page. It says that it is correct to use the definite article with countries with 'United' in their name:

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

As the information says, there are some other countries which take the definite article even though they do not have 'United' in their name. These are the exceptions referred to/

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SakshiJulka123 on Sun, 10/05/2020 - 05:05

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Hi! Can I get some information on zero article here? Sakshi

Submitted by krollos on Thu, 07/05/2020 - 16:38

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Hi there Why do we say "university of Notingham" without "the" and we can use "the" with universities with of in the title(like university of Tokyo)?
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Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 08/05/2020 - 06:55

In reply to by krollos

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Hello krollos,

We do use 'the' before 'University of Nottingham'. I expect the task marked it wrong because your answer was not capitalised.

After you complete a task and click 'Finish' you have the option to choose 'Show answers' to see the correct answers to the task.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by misagh on Wed, 06/05/2020 - 15:01

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Hi there I've got a little problem with this question in test 2: Every Friday my grandad goes to ....prison to teach a maths class. Why should we use "the" in the blank? He goes there every week and prison is kind of a workplace for him. Isn't it?