When to use "the"(Foreigners' Faqs)
This is often quite tricky for those learning English. The basic rules can be found in the Purdue University Online Writing Lab's WWW page titled "The Use and Non-Use of Articles: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/esl/eslart.html (very brief), and in "An Overview of English Article Usage for Speakers of English as a Second Language" by John R. Kohl of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: http://www.rensselaer.edu/dept/llc/writecenter/ascii/esl.txt The book _Three Little Words; A, An and The: a Foreign Student's Guide to English_ by Elizabeth Claire (Delta, 1988, ISBN 0-937354-46-5) has been recommended. The article "the" before a noun generally indicates one specific instance of the object named. For example, "I went to the school" refers to one school. (The context should establish which school is meant.) Such examples have the same meaning in all English- speaking countries. The construct
, with no intervening article, often refers to a state of being rather than to an instance of the object named by the noun. The set of commonly used preposition-noun combinations varies from one dialect to another. Some examples are: I went to bed = I retired for the night. Even if I had the habit of sleeping on the floor, I would still say "I went to bed" and not "I went to floor". She is at university (U.K.) = She is in college (U.S.) = She is a student, enrolled in a particular type of tertiary institution. This sentence does not imply that she is now physically present on the campus. He was taken to hospital (U.K.) = He was hospitalized. (A U.S. speaker might say "to the hospital" even if there were several hospitals in the area.)
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