White House aides have always been leery of Trump's visits to Bedminster where, as at Mar-a-Lago, he can mingle with members without staff "handlers" surrounding him. Also, there are fewer staff to try to keep him upbeat and, with some luck, away from the television.

As the title says, I don't understand why we need 'the' in that phrase. I think television here means broadcasting in television which is used as a uncountable noun and it's not a specific TV set or television program, so away from television should be just fine.

Any thought?

The full source.

  • 1
    No, it means the TV set (keep him from watching the TV set). If it meant the medium, some relevant context would be need to be added.
    – user3169
    Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 18:51
  • 1
    It is the same as Keep him away from the toilet, even though there are quite a few toilets in a billionaire's mansion.
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 0:16

1 Answer 1


I don't understand why we need 'the' in that phrase.

"The television" is a common expression, just like "the refrigerator" or "the bathtub". Just imagine there is a television in the building. That will be "the television."

Likewise, if someone is trying to lose weight, you would not say "keep him away from refrigerators", which means "all refrigerators containing food, in general". No. You'd say "keep him away from the refrigerator".

You are right that it's also possible to refer to "television" as an uncountable noun such as in the expression "television is bad for you." So, the author had different options to express the same idea. When that's the case, the reason can sometimes be an arbitrary one, or an aesthetic one, "What sounds better?" "What creates the mood I am trying to convey in the article?", since both phrasings are valid.

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