Go to hospital / Go to the hospital
Knowing when to use the is often difficult. Some
words have different meanings with or without the.
The following words should be used without the
when the idea or purpose of the place is important:
- school (college, university)
- prison (jail)
If you needed an operation last year, you say:
I went to hospital.
The purpose of a hospital is to care for sick people,
and you went there for that purpose. So you say hospital,
not the hospital.
If you visited a sick friend, you say:
I went to the hospital.
You didn't go there because you were sick, you just went
to that place, so you use the as you normally would.
My son went to school this morning. (he went
there to study)
I went to the school to meet his teacher. (I
just met his teacher there)
My brother went to prison. (he robbed a bank)
I went to the prison to see him. (I visited
Do you go to church? (to pray)
I went to the church to take some photos. (the
purpose was photography, not religion)
I went to university in New York. (to study)
My friends went to the university to see the cherry
blossoms. (not to study)