Why is it ok to omit an article in a sentence using the get out of expression:

He gets out of jail.

instead of

He gets out of a/the jail.

I found this thread, but it is somehow not really relating to my case.


He gets out of jail.

"Jail" refers more to the (generic) situation of being deprived of liberty.

He gets out of the jail.

In this case, "the jail" refers more to the building where he was incarcerated.

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    The general rule given is too imprecise. Constructions like "The lion is an apex predator" (introducing a hypothetical individual to stand in for a generic group) are fairly common in English. Likewise, "Trump is President of the US" (using the zero article) is not more generic than "the President", but instead more specific. – Nathan Tuggy Feb 27 '19 at 8:40
  • "The general rule given is too imprecise." That is precisely why I said "A general rule". I am not able at this moment to provide a better general rule. Regarding "Trump is President of the US", it may be idiomatic, but I think that the definite article would find a good use there. I am European non-native English speaker. – virolino Feb 27 '19 at 8:45
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    My point was that the general rule given is too imprecise to even be mentioned as a rule at all. It's just not worth putting in an answer: the exceptions are too common, and it's counterproductive to learn. – Nathan Tuggy Feb 27 '19 at 8:48
  • OK, no general rule :) – virolino Feb 27 '19 at 8:53

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