Here is the sentence where I am confused as to whether I should put the or not:

"I won first place at the tournament"


"I won the first place at the tournament"

Which one is correct according to American/United States English?

Here's a Google NGram regarding usage - http://bit.ly/20LmDri

  • What are the relative frequencies in a Google search? In Ngrams "won first place at/in" and "won the first place at/in"? Nov 11, 2015 at 1:41
  • @FF I'd guess that the situation changes between 'won [the] first place in/at' and 'won [the] first prize in/at'. But I think OP should find the data. Nov 11, 2015 at 1:43
  • @EdwinAshworth Here's the Ngram - bit.ly/20LmDri
    – Shrey
    Nov 11, 2015 at 1:48
  • And can you make a deduction as to which it's probably better to use? And whether the other is absolutely unacceptable? Nov 11, 2015 at 1:51
  • "I won the first place at the tournament" is wrong and would seem like broken English spoken by a foreign speaker.
    – bubbleking
    May 3, 2016 at 15:07

1 Answer 1


The first one makes sense, but if you want to use "the" you could say "I won the first place prize/spot/position at the tournament"

  • 1
    'Makes sense' and 'is idiomatic' are unfortunately distant cousins in English. Nov 11, 2015 at 12:26

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