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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. Source

These are not wrong: "We go to school" & "We go to the same school".

My question is that whether we can say: "We go to same school?". I can feel that is wrong but not sure.

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    In "We go to school." school is a descriptive term regarding an activity (getting an education). I doesn't refer to a physical location. – user3169 Jun 20 '17 at 16:18
  • @user3169 If you follow that description too closely, though, you'll run into issues. "You want to borrow Dad's car after supper? Where are you going?" — "To school." Or similarly: "Every morning I get up, eat breakfast, and walk three blocks to school." Even if the activity is meant, those sentences certainly put the accent on the physical location. – Luke Sawczak Jun 20 '17 at 16:34
  • @LukeSawczak In such cases the activity happens to be at a physical location. Its a fine distinction. – user3169 Jun 20 '17 at 16:38
  • @LukeSawczak I don't think that's problematic here. "Where are you going? / To school." is just simplifying the conversation. The specific school is known, so it can be assumed from context. It would not be wrong to say "To the school here" (indeed, I go "to the university", but I don't "go to school" since I teach there, and am not a student there). – Jim MacKenzie Jun 20 '17 at 17:01
  • @JimMacKenzie Where are you taking the car? — To school. Although I admit that the activity aspect can fit here, I think the physical location one is the prominent one. I don't want to say the distinction isn't useful; I just want to ensure the OP isn't therefore led to say "To the school" here because of the prominence of the "move from one place to another" idea in sentences like this. – Luke Sawczak Jun 20 '17 at 17:07
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To go to school means to be a student. The singular school without determiner has that meaning.

As soon as you add the adjective same in front of "school", you're referring to a particular place (not to being a student) and so an article is needed.

We cannot say:

I like same movie.

I visit same restaurant.

I like same girl.

I go to same school.

You must say "the same" + noun.

  • What about "Sorcha isn’t at our school". "School" in that sentence is defined or not? – Tom Jun 20 '17 at 21:56
  • @Tom: at refers to the place. our is a possessive determiner. So it's referring to a particular school. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 20 '17 at 22:42
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No, you can't say we go to same school. You can say we go to school because you are not specifying what exact school you go to. You are speaking in general. But when you say we go to the same school, there is a specific school that you both go to. The word same there does the specifying for you.

Likewise, if you say we go to the school then we know you are talking about a specific school that you have probably mentioned previously. And if you say her husband spent three years in the prison then there is a specific prison location that you are talking about.

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