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"to hospital" vs "to the hospital"

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Postby sluggo » Wed Apr 12, 2006 5:26 pm

Stargzer wrote:I agree with Tim that to school, in school, and at school imply that one is attending classes. To the school, in the school, and at the school imply that one is at a particular school/building.

Telephone conversations:

"May I speak with Sarah?"
"No, she's at school right now." ==> Implies that Sarah is in class, either learning or teaching or doing some other work. This is similar to "No, she's at work right now."


"May I speak with Sarah?"
"No she's up at the school right now." ==> Implies that Sarah is somewhere on the school grounds. She could be playing or coaching a sport, in an after-school club, attending a parent-teacher conference or other meeting, or, like my fool wife, doing some non-paid work on a weekend, such as putting up a new bulletin board, because they won't give her time to do it during the week. :wink:


Also "the school" used as above would indicate in the US that the speaker and speakee both know exactly which school is referred to, while "in school" means what the person is doing rather than where they are located right now.

"In hospital" is to my ears always heard from UK and Canada, and feels like it's a more experiential term, like "in pain", whereas the USian "in the hospital" feels like it's physically localising :wink: the subject.

I'm surprised this post didn't open the floodgates for US/UK variations in general...
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Postby Davekent » Thu Apr 13, 2006 12:10 pm

Gotta add my extra two cents:

There are many count nouns that take the zero article in abstract or specialized use. . .especially in certain idiomatic expressions with verbs like "be" and "go" + preposition:

go by car . . .but sit in/look at, the car
be in bed . . .but make/sit on, the bed
go to school (institution) . . .but go into/take a look at, the school (a building)

More. . .

be in or go to. . .bed, church, prison, class, sea, hospital (BrE). The Brits happen to treat the noun hospital as an "institution" not a "building."
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Postby sluggo » Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:16 pm

Davekent wrote:The Brits happen to treat the noun hospital as an "institution" not a "building."


DK, I think you just hit the nail on the head!
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Postby Perry » Sat Apr 15, 2006 12:45 am

Another interesting Britishism (or at least a Mancunianism) is "I'll give it you", whereas in the US one would say "I'll give it to you".
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UK/US usage

Postby sluggo » Sat Apr 15, 2006 10:26 am

For all we bemoan the homogenising effect of media, how much does it also open our ears to 'what else is out there'... a great many British expressions have come to these ears via the likes of The Beatles or Monty Python's Flying Circus, e.g. "left it too late" (in "I'm a Loser).

Strange to think that in the early '60s Capitol Records resisted releasing Beatles music in the US as being "too British"(!).
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Postby sandymiss » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:10 pm

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Postby roseanna » Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:08 am

How do you choose the hospital that you will have your baby at? Hi. I live in Chicago, I am pregnant, and don't know yet which hospital I am gonna give birth at. Can you give me some insights on how to choose the hospital? What should I look for? How can I determine that one hospital is better than the other? Thanks in advance!
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Postby Perry » Sun Dec 27, 2009 11:48 pm

Maybe she can ask the one who keeps harping about language schools. They can misdirect each other.
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Postby skinem » Mon Dec 28, 2009 3:19 pm

Yup...this is obviously the first place that anyone would turn to for that kind of information.

What I want to know is, will she being going "to hospital" or "to the hospital"? Until she can answer that, whatever will she do? How will she choose the right hospital? Oh, the suspense... :roll:
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Postby Stargzer » Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:29 am

roseanna wrote:How do you choose the hospital that you will have your baby at? Hi. I live in Chicago, I am pregnant, and don't know yet which hospital I am gonna give birth at. Can you give me some insights on how to choose the hospital? What should I look for? How can I determine that one hospital is better than the other? Thanks in advance!


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