My native English speaking friend told me I shouldn't say "I am going to the downtown." But I should say "I am going downtown." The dictionary says downtown is a noun and an adverb, so was I wrong?

He also said that words like downtown, upstairs, downstairs, and home shouldn't be used like nouns, when they are destinations like in my first example sentence. Is this correct?

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  • 1
    Downtown is treated like a proper noun (although it is not capitalized) when you are talking about a specific city. You wouldn't say "I am going to the New York City," either. You can treat it like a common noun when you are talking about the downtown area of a generic city: for example, "A good downtown will attract tourists." – Peter Shor Dec 26 '15 at 18:46
  • The dictionaries do not give the complete picture about the noun usages. You are quite right to ask this question. M-W Learner's Dictionary gives: downtown n the main or central part of a city or town: the part of a city or town where there are tall buildings, stores, offices, etc. — usually singular ... The city's downtown is thriving. But the other example given shows that downtown's distribution is perhaps less restricted than some would imagine: I live close to downtown.... – Edwin Ashworth Dec 26 '15 at 20:28
  • However, I'd say that 'I am going to the downtown' sounds distinctly non-standard as of now. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 26 '15 at 20:31
  • This is not a duplicate as it further asks about the distribution of nounal downtown. As HotLicks says, 'I went to the downtown of Smith City' is acceptable; as M-W LD says, 'I live close to downtown' is acceptable. The fact that downtown may be used as a directional or locative does not preclude other usages. "I am going to the downtown." is arguably not ungrammatical, though it sounds distinctly odd (as 'I am going downtown' is far more common). – Edwin Ashworth Dec 26 '15 at 20:36
  • One thing we can all agree on is that things will be great when you're downtown. – Minnow Dec 27 '15 at 1:15

This is correct:

I am going downtown.

Saying "I am going the downtown" or "I am going to the downtown" sounds weird.

However, I'm really confused by the news that the word downtown can be used as an adverb. I checked, and you're correct - but I don't get it. Maybe someone can give both of us an example of how it's used as an adverb. ;)

  • 3
    In going downtown, "downtown" is used as an adverb, just as "east" in going east. – Graffito Dec 26 '15 at 18:54
  • 1
    Your answers question is a duplicate :P – candied_orange Dec 26 '15 at 18:55
  • Where are you? -- I'm downtown. Where are you heading? I'm heading downtown. Downtown can refer both to the section of the city, i.e. a location, and to the direction like uptown and cross-town. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 26 '15 at 19:52
  • 4
    But note that one might say "I went to the downtown of Smith City" or some such, to indicate what quarter of an identified municipality you were in. – Hot Licks Dec 26 '15 at 20:20
  • I going downtown sounds correct but what about when you want to say something like going to a specific city's downtown like going to San Salvador's downtown would you say something like "if you go San Salvador's downtown bring me some souvenirs" or would you use the preposition "to"? – Manuel Hernandez Apr 4 '16 at 0:39

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