I go to my church on Sunday.

Someone keeps arguing it is correct but it feels like my church implies that the speaker owns or runs the church.
I feel that the more appropriate sentence could be

I go to church on Sunday.

But then argument continues,

My church is in this/that area.

However, I feel the more appropriate sentence could be

The church is in this/that area.

Also, office (where the person works but doesn't own), school(speaker goes to this school but doesn't own, house(speaker lives here but doesn't own) are used in the argument.

Is the use of my in the sentences above correct ?

  • 1
    Yes, my is fine in all of those. 'My' church is where I am a member of the congregation, 'my' school is where I am a member of the faculty or student body, 'my' home is where I am a member of the family. – StoneyB on hiatus Jul 2 '15 at 23:21

In your examples, church has different meanings depending on the presence of an article or other determiner.

Let's deal with the meanings first and turn to the OED for guidance:

I. A building for public worship, or the worship performed there.

as opposed to:

  1. Without article. Public Christian worship taking place in a church; divine service. Freq. in to go to church , after church, at church, etc. Also as a count noun: a ceremony of public worship, a service.

Generally (there are exceptions to this) when you say "I'm going to my church" the use of the possessive pronoun implies a specific church "My church is St Peters on Station Road".

"I go to church on Sunday" is less specific, it's usually used to refer to the activity of attending a church.

  • This does not answer the question. You are discussing article use in general, but not whether using my is correct or not. – user3169 Jul 3 '15 at 0:32
  • @user3169 I think the point is that there is not a correct or incorrect response to the question as it stands. The use of my is grammatically correct but may not be semantically correct depending on context - it's the presence or lack of a determiner that sets the context. – PerryW Jul 3 '15 at 0:42

'My' can (and often does) imply ownership, but it may also imply belonging or association. For example, I do not own or run Australia, yet I can happily say that it is my country of birth. Similarly, my family, my friends, my workplace. I might have to run to catch my plane or it could leave without me.

So saying 'I go to my church' simply denotes that you belong to the congregation. It is as correct as saying 'I go to church', but it isn't really any more correct.

Luckily for you, I don't know of any religion that says choosing a different way of saying something than your friend is a sin. :P

  • 1
    damn, I was hoping to claim ownership over "my local"... – nkjt Jul 3 '15 at 10:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.