There is an exercise about articles. We must put the necessary article in the underlined places, if necessary, and “x” if it is not.

There we went shopping at the (Correct is: x) Harrods, visited the Tower and enjoyed a sunny afternoon in the (Correct is: x) Hyde Park.

I can't understand why we can't put article "the" in the first and in the last places?
Please correct my question if it's necessary.


It is better to ask when we do use it than when we don't, as exceptions are not usually an exhaustive list.

"The" is a determiner. You use it when something needs to be determined! When something does not, you don't usually use it, unless the subject requires an article.

For example, it is quite common and idiomatic for people to say they are "going to town", or "going into town". Obviously, there are many towns - but when it is tacit that they are going to their town, or the nearest town, there is no need to determine which town it is with an article. However - if you were talking about your visit to a different area, it would be expected that you would say you visited "the town" there - because it is not the town you would normally refer to.

In your example, you refer to "The Tower of London" as "the Tower". As has already been answered, "The Tower of London" is a proper noun that includes the article. However, in abbreviated form "the Tower" needs an article because "tower" alone is not a proper noun. You could say "I visited a tower" if there were many towers in London, but there is one very famous tower and so it requires the definite article.

"Harrods" is the complete name of the famous store, so no need for an article.

  • Why do we say "the universe"? There's only one of them (as far as we know) so it's not like we need to differentiate it from other universes.
    – CJ Dennis
    Mar 11 '20 at 11:31
  • @CJDennis Actually if you look up 'universe' on Wikipedia you will see several uses of "a universe" as it is believed our universe (commonly referred to as the universe) is just one of many within a multiverse. That's immaterial though - I can't possibly list every context and exception, a point I made at the beginning of my answer. I believe I addressed the OP's question.
    – Astralbee
    Mar 11 '20 at 12:42
  • I disagree. Why do we say "The universe is big" and not "Universe is big"? Why does the universe need to be determined when there's only one of it?
    – CJ Dennis
    Mar 11 '20 at 13:27
  • @CJDennis We would say "Universes are big", right? And if you say "the" universe, which one is it? Well, it's our universe, obviously. I've covered this in my answer.
    – Astralbee
    Mar 11 '20 at 13:48
  • @CJDennis I don't see how I can cover every context in my answer, but I did say "usually" - to make you happy I've clarified this by adding the disclaimer "unless the subject requires an article", which I thought went without saying, but evidently not.
    – Astralbee
    Mar 11 '20 at 13:50

We basically never use the with a proper name. For "the Tower" in your text, "the" is part of the name: The Tower of London.

The only exception I can think of is when we use it with a defining phrase. to pick out one of several holders of the name: The John Smith I went to school with; The Brian Cox who is an actor.

  • Or for humorous emphasis of some trait, or lack of some trait, e.g. "The Donald", via Trump's Czech ESL wife whose error went viral...
    – agc
    Mar 10 '20 at 19:06

There is a distinction between British English and American English in at least one phrase involving "the".

Specifically, in British English, the phrase is "in hospital" as in, "She was in hospital last week." In American English, it is always written as "in the hospital."

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