I'm reading this book entitled Common Mistakes in English published by Longman. I saw this there. It gave examples about school which says 'go to school' means 'attend school as a student' while 'go to the school' means 'visit it' and church which says 'go to church' means 'go and pray' while go to the church mean 'go and visit the church'.

Then it put a note at the end which briefly says, 'Similarly, distinguish between go to bed and go to the bed, sit at table and sit at the table...'

What's the difference between 'sit at table' and 'sit at the table' in meaning?


2 Answers 2


"Go to church" means going to pray, attend a worship service, and so on.

"Go to bed" means going to sleep.

Both of these have to do with the most common activity associated with a location.

"Sit at table" does too. It means going to eat a meal.

To sit at table to be at table for eating.

(Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary via FineDictionary.com)

However, it's fairly obsolete these days. Most native speakers will know what you mean, but it sounds strange.


Go to bed has an idiomatic meaning. It means you're going to sleep.

Goodnight, everybody! I'm going to bed.
(Possible response: Good night! Sweet dreams! See you in the morning.)

Go to school had an idiomatic meaning. It means you're attending class as a student.

Goodbye, everyone; I'm going to school.
(Possible response: Good luck on your test today!)

If we were not attending school as a student, but were going to the school anyway, we would say it differently:

Goodbye, everyone; I'm going to the school.
(Possible response: Good luck on your job interview!)

Go to table has no corresponding idiomatic meaning.

See you later, everyone. I'm going to table.
(this is not idiomatic English)

Instead, we would say:

See you later, everyone. I'm going to eat.


I'm going to the table now. Anyone want to join me for supper?

  • 1
    The question asks about "sit at table", not "go to table". Commented May 28, 2016 at 20:34

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