Why is this sentence wrong about the article usage?

Don't be late for the school.

I was told that the correct sentence is Don't be late for School.

1 Answer 1


"The school" would refer to the actual building or institution, which will be there for quite some time. That means it will be quite difficult to be late for it - it won't go anywhere.

"School" on the other hand implies the action of following education at such an institution, and that concept does allow for a schedule:

School starts at 8, don't be late!

In contrast, you could say, if the person goes to school by bus:

Don't be late for the bus!

Which means one should be on time to catch the specific vehicle that we are referring to. "Bus" is not used in any sense similar to "school" to indicate the use of it, so "don't be late for bus" would be incorrect.

Instead of "school", you could use "work" or "dinner", in the sense of "the act of performing work" or "the act of having dinner".

If you warn someone not to be late for the important gala dinner to which they were invited, you would say "don't be late for the dinner".

Like your other questions, school, work and dinner when used as mass nouns do not take an article, but when you refer to a specific (countable) object you do use an article (the bus, the specific dinner).

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