English as a Second Language/church///

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Question
Hi

How are you?

Sometimes I see that the article "the" is used in front of the words CHURCH, SCHOOL, PRISON, CLASS, and COLLEGE. And sometimes no article is used in front of them. Could you please tell me why? When should we used "the" in front of the above words and when shouldn't we use the article "the?"

For example, which one is correct?

a) Right now, Peter is in church.

b) Right now, Peter is in the church.

Thank you so much for taking the time to help me.

All the best

Answer
Hey Hame,

both sentences are correct but they have different meanings.

When you say "Peter is in church" it means that Peter is attending the religious service.

When you say "Peter is in the church" you're emphasizing that Peter is inside the church building (his physical location is for some reason important)

X is in school - he's attending school
X is in the school - he is physically inside the school building but not necessarily a student

X is in prison - he's serving time
X is in the prison - he is physically inside the prison (but not necessarily a prisoner, he may be a guard, he may be visiting etc)

X is in class - he's attending class
X is in the class - this wouldn't be correct

X is in college - he's a college student
X is in the college - again, like above it means that he is physically inside the college building but not necessarily a student

Hopefully this helps.

~Amy

English as a Second Language

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Amy Baker

Expertise

I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.

Experience

I'm a certified ESL teacher with 12 years of experience teaching K-12 and adults.

Education/Credentials
BSc MEd TESL post grad program for k-12 TESL post grad program for adult ed

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