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Articles 2

Do you know when you need to use the in common phrases and place names?

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

Language level

Beginner: A1
Pre-intermediate: A2


Hello Van

As is explained above, we use 'the' before oceans. 'The Pacific is the world's largest ocean' is correct and 'Pacific is the world's largest ocean' is not.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

It's helpful.

Hii sir, my doubts is related to questions tag I'll change (I was rich.) In question tag.. please let me know.. thank you.

Hello 8130445980

'wasn't I?' is the question tag for that statement -- please see the explanation on our Question tags page.

By the way, if your username is a telephone number, you should change it to something else. Our House rules prohibit the sharing of personal information.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team


You have said in the explanation that

Universities with of in the title also have the:

the University of Cape Town

So why is it wrong to say in test No. 2

(Incorrect) the University of Nottingham ??????

Also, you have said that we should say the Nile, and in test no.1, it gave me incorrect answer to say the Nile

The test has marked them as a mistake because they are the beginnig of a sentence so they start in capital letters.

I hope it helps :)

Hello saja1987

For Grammar test 2 sentence 3, you have to capitalise 'The' -- in other words, 'the' is not correct, but 'The' is. The first letter of sentences is capitalised in English. The same is true for Grammar test 1 sentence 4: 'The' is correct, but not 'the'.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Good afternoon teachers!
I'm very confused about the use of the article "the".
Do we say "I watched the TV" or "I watched TV"
I've always said and used "watch TV" but I've heard on a video from an English teacher "I watched the TV" actually it was "telly" but I don't think it makes any difference to the grammar rule?
Many thanks for your help.
Kind regards.

Hello Cathy,

You can actually use either the TV or just TV in these contexts. It's something which has developed over time so it's more the result of convention and habit that any grammar rule. You just need to remember, and not just with TV:

watch something on TV / the TV

listen to the radio (not just radio)

read on the Internet (not just Internet)



The LearnEnglish Team


Why in the sentence

Well, we'd just come back from town, hadn't we, Doreen

"the" is missing before town?