Common expressions without articles

In some fixed expressions, countable nouns are used without articles.

Examples are:

To school / at school / in school (US) / from school

I am going to school. (NOT I am going to the school.)

We were friends at school.

Jane hasn’t returned from school.

To / at / from university / college (GB)

To / in / from college (US)

I first met her at college.

To / at / in / into / from church

To / in / into / out of bed / prison

Mom has gone to church.

To / in / into / out of hospital (GB)

To / at / from work

To / at sea

To / in / from town

At / from home

Leave home

Leave / start / enter school / university / college

By day; at night

With place nouns, similar expressions with articles may have different meanings.

I met her at university. (when we were students)

I will meet you at the university. (In this case, the university is merely a meeting place. Here the reference is to the building.)

Susie is in hospital: she has kidney trouble.

I went to the hospital to see Susie. (Here the reference is to the hospital building.)

In American English, the nouns hospital and university are not used without articles.

We were friends at university. (GB)

We were friends at the university. (US)

Related posts:

  1. IELTS Vocabulary – Idioms and Expressions
  2. Prepositions before particular words and expressions
  3. IELTS writing tips: sentence connectors
  4. IELTS Common mistakes

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