Example with a context:

That, I think, is the most likely circumstance for Putin's departure. It's not that he'll lose an election—it's that a bunch of men in gray suits are going to file into his office and say, "Vladimir Vladimirovich, it's time for you to do your last service to the state, and that's to retire."

Or he may be off at his dacha and see on the television that he's just stepped down for reasons of ill health. And he'll pick up his red phone, and find that the people answering it will no longer take orders from him.

What do you think the difference would be if we got rid of the article? Why not say on television instead? What's the nuance?

3 Answers 3


I think it's more common and natural to say "on television" if you refer to broadcast by television; the use of the article "the" is optional and uncommon. So we can't say that the use of "the" is grammatically incorrect. Refer to Oxford Learners, Longman, and MW Learners Dictionaries. For example, I saw him last night on (the) television. There is nothing interesting on (the) television.

On the other hand, you always use the definite/indefinite article if you refer to a television set. For example, my book is lying on the television. Please turn the television on.


'on the Television' is more accurate; 'on Television' is colloquial.

The sentence is using Television as a noun and therefore 'on the Television' is more correct.

You'd be fine with either in conversation.


I believe they used on the television for emphasis.

However, in general it is not so natural to say on television by itself. Better would be on the television (it indirectly refers to the TV set, so an article is OK) or on T.V. (the medium in general, so no article).

  • 3
    I disagree: I think it's more natural to say "on television" for something that is being broadcast. If I hear "on the television", I expect it to refer to some object that's sitting on the physical set, e.g. "I left my keys on the television".
    – jamesqf
    Mar 31, 2015 at 23:31
  • @jamesqf I'm just saying I would expect to hear "on T.V." more than on television, but of course both are possible.
    – user3169
    Apr 1, 2015 at 1:51

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