Oxford Dictionary says that

When a school is being referred to as an institution, you do not need to use the: When do the children finish school? When you are talking about a particular building, the is used: I’ll meet you outside the school. Prison, jail, court, and church work in the same way: Her husband spent three years in prison.

So, when you say "I go to school", "school" is an uncountable noun & means a general teaching institution.

But, when you say "I go to the school" "school" is a countable noun & means a physical school building.

My question is that:

Do we apply that same principle to the word "supermarket"?

For example, "I go to supermarket everyday" (supermarket here is an uncountable noun & means a general supermarket)

"I go to the supermarket everyday" (supermarket here is a countable noun & means a physical supermarket building)

But in Longman DIctionary, "supermarket" is a countable noun only.

  • In AmE, we don't say "I'm going to supermarket" to mean to shop for groceries. But in English generally we do say, "going to market". I suppose we use the article because the supermarket is a relatively new thing, and "super" distinguished it from normal establishments, although nowdays few grocery stores are not supermarkets.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 9:25
  • No, it is always a countable noun, you need to use an article with it. Out of interest, why do you ask?
    – SteveES
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 9:26

2 Answers 2


It's not idiomatic to say

we go to supermarket

although going to market has long been established usage.

Where supermarkets are concerned, one goes to a supermarket or the supermarket, for the time-being anyhow.


As @Tᴚoɯɐuo comments, there is an "article-less" usage go to market in English, but that one's extremely dated when used with the sense of [a person] going to a market in order to buy things there. It might still occur occasionally with the sense ...in order to sell things there, but even that seems dated / dialectal / "rustic" to me. Today it's only likely to occur in contexts like The new model goes to market next week (but even that would more often be comes to market, or perhaps hits the market).

In all normal contexts, you'd go to the supermarket, regardless of whether you have any particular supermarket in mind (or indeed, whether there is more than one supermarket that you could feasibly be going to).

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