0

He could stay, and suffer with a failing body, or go to heaven and join his loving family on the other side of life.

There is one heaven, so shouldn't we use the with heaven?

ngram:

enter image description here

  • 1
    Some places names have "the" in front of them, some don't. After all you don't say, "Let's go to the England," or, "the India". – Andrew Mar 17 '17 at 21:02
  • agree with you, we don’t usually use articles with countries. and there known rules for these cases. – Shannak Mar 17 '17 at 21:18
  • 4
    "Heaven" (and "Hell") can be formally considered as countries, as both have numerous ambassadors to our world :) – Andrew Mar 17 '17 at 21:21
  • Heaven is like school. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 17 '17 at 23:22
1

You go to bed when you are sleepy.

You go to school when you are a student.

Some believe you go to heaven when you die.

This form without an article refers to the behavior or action as behavior or action, i.e. in the abstract or "in general", rather than to a particular bed, school, or heaven, as the case would be with the definite article, the, and rather than to no bed, school, or heaven in particular, but still to some bed, school, or heaven, as the case would be with the indefinite article a.

2

No, because assuming the subject follows one of the Christian faiths (or any faith with a heaven really), the heaven* being referred to is Heaven, a specific place with a proper name.

It should be written:

...or go to Heaven and join his family...

*Heaven spoken of as a concept, as above, would take an article.

-1

A) "I went to a park." <== could mean any park

B) I went to the park." <== maybe one of many parks, but we're supposed to know which one is meant from context or other reasons.

C) "I went to the Department of Education." <== one of many departments, and then we supply context to tell you which one

D) "I went to Disneyland." <== Proper Noun: only one in existence and it's called this (no "the" is used)

So which pattern would you use for "heaven" or "hell" ? D). It was probably spelled with a capital 'H' originally.

  • 1
    And what do you mean by "originally"? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 17 '17 at 21:18
  • 3
    The challenge is that "the" is used in a lot of unique place names: "The Grand Canyon", "The Eiffel Tower", "The White House" etc. You might think "the" is used with place names that contain non-specific objects like "canyon" or "tower", but then you get "Buckingham Palace", one of many English "palaces". So I don't think there is any absolute rule for these kind of proper nouns (much as it would be nice) – Andrew Mar 17 '17 at 21:18
  • sky, earth... look at the sky, The satellite slowly rotates as it circles the earth. – Shannak Mar 17 '17 at 21:31
  • @Andrew True, but in each of your examples, there is a word modifying the noun, implying there are possibly more than just this one in existence but we mean this one. Not so with "heaven" and this makes all the difference (Buckingham Palace is perhaps a special case, done to emphasize its singularity, to give it more awe). However...... TRomano hit it right by pointing out we don't use "the" when referring to an abstract concept, because notions of one, two, or more wouldn't make sense. – Stew C Mar 23 '17 at 18:29
  • 1
    True, we are looking for major patterns which are helpful as guides to learners rather than iron-clad rules. And unfortunately, "Mount" is not an adjective, so "Mount Everest" isn't really a counter-example. – Stew C Mar 23 '17 at 19:45
-1

In order not to sound stilted and still refer to multiple ideas of heaven, it is best to refer to the specific heaven in question. For example:

...the Christian heaven...

...the Pastafarian heaven...

or

...heaven for Christians...

...heaven for Pastafarians...

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.