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. Is this correct?

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    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." Dec 26, 2015 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.... Dec 26, 2015 at 20:28
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    However, I'd say that 'I am going to the downtown' sounds distinctly non-standard as of now. Dec 26, 2015 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). Dec 26, 2015 at 20:36
  • One thing we can all agree on is that things will be great when you're downtown.
    – Minnow
    Dec 27, 2015 at 1:15

1 Answer 1


"downtown" acts like "home" as Adverb, Adjective, and Noun but Verb unlike home. Anyway, As we can't say: "We are going to home (adverb)." but we can say: "We are going to the home (noun)." [Because before Adverb no preposition is placed. Preposition is allowed only before Noun/Pronoun.]

Therefore, we always use only: "We are going home." It's rare "We are going to the home." But both are grammatically correct.

Hence, "I am going downtown." is preferable to "I am going to the downtown."

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    Welcome to ELL. We like to set a good example in our answers. Please improve yours by correcting the grammatical, punctuation, and capitalization errors. Jul 12, 2022 at 6:14

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