I have learned that article is not used before Temple, Hospital, Jail, or Zoo if one visits it for the purpose it is.

I saw one sentence

Visitors to the zoo are amused by monkey playing in the cages.

Why "the" is used here?

  • 4
    In Am.E. this is true for "go to temple/church" and "go to jail." It's not true for "go to the hospital" (though in Br.E., "go to hospital" is perfectly fine). As far as I'm aware, you would go to "the zoo" in both British and American English.
    – Katy
    Oct 30, 2019 at 5:15

2 Answers 2


You should not omit "the" when talking about a particular zoo.

"The" is sometimes omitted when we are speaking of the "social institution" (a collection of people) and not "the physical building".

You have to go to school until you are 18

We go to church on Sunday.

If you are talking about a particular school then use "the"

I go to the school in the centre of town.

The same is true of other social institutions such as "jail" or "church". Generally the word "temple" and "zoo" refer to particular buildings or places, and not to social institutions (we use "church" to mean a collection of people or to a building, but temple always refers to a particular building, they are not used the same way). So you should normally use "the"

We go to the temple on New Year's day.

On Saturday we will go to the zoo.

  • 1
    Agreed except for temple--"On Saturdays, we go to temple/synagogue" is definitely common in Am.E. and can be used in a similar institutional sense.
    – Katy
    Oct 30, 2019 at 6:09

There seems to be a degree of universality implied when you omit the "the", as in, it is accepted that "everyone does this" (or at least that the possibility applies to everyone). There also seems to be an implicit suggestion of what you will be doing there, which is again, universal (to a degree).


  • Going to jail
  • Going to court
  • Going to bed
  • Going to Church

"Zoo", I feel, definitely doesn't belong in your list.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .