So, “May I go to the bathroom?” is “Will you please permit me to leave class and go to the bathroom?”

I guess leave class would be leave the class since both the speaker and the listener know which class the speaker is taking about ? Am I correct ? And is there a difference ?

Thank you.

  • 1
    Related: english.stackexchange.com/a/6636/2303. We sometimes drop the article and sometimes we keep it. Dropping it is more general, leaving is emphasizing a particular instance of the noun.
    – Robusto
    May 1 '17 at 3:57

Yes, you can use "leave the class" since you both know what you're taking about.

The definite article the is the most frequent word in English.

We use the definite article in front of a noun when we believe the hearer/reader knows exactly what we are referring to.


• because there is only one in that place or in those surroundings


You can say:

 “Will you please permit me to leave class and go to the bathroom?”

In this case you don't specify the class. Maybe you're talking about the class you're attending at the moment, maybe you're asking if you could leave any class in general when you have to go to the bathroom.

 “Will you please permit me to leave the class and go to the bathroom?”

In this case you're talking about a given class, the one that you're attending at the moment or the one that was referenced before in the context, so it's known which class you're talking about, you're not talking in general.

  • Thank you for answering, so why the speaker say leave class ? What is the difference ? May 1 '17 at 3:50
  • 2
    @GamalThomas Not much. I know people who'd say without the "the" it's more formal or more British. Generally speaking when you use "the" you talk about something definite, hence the name definite article, when you omit it, it's more of a generalization. "The villages are smarter than the cities" vs. "Villages are smaller than cities". The first sentence implies a given set of cities and villages while the second implies all of them everywhere. Here the same is true, with the definite article you talk about a given class, without it you don't specify. I'll include this in the answer.
    – Korvin
    May 1 '17 at 4:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .