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  1. I am going to college.

  2. I am going to the college.

What is the difference between these two sentences? Are they similar?

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I am going to college.

Refers to attending college as a student.

I am going to the college.

Refers to going to the physical location of the college.

  • The college could also refer to a particular college. Consider this conversation: Have you heard of ____ College? -- Yes, I'm actually going to (i.e. attending) the college. – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 3 '16 at 18:26
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    In that usage "I'm actually going there" or "I'm actually going to that college" would be better than using "the". – Tofystedeth May 3 '16 at 18:27
  • I have to disagree. On what grounds do you think "there" or "that" are superior? In my hypothetical conversation, that would be an odd choice, although there would be OK. – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 3 '16 at 20:51
  • I'm not sure I know how to express it grammatically, but as an AmE native speaker, 'there' and 'that' function as back-references to the college mentioned in the question. "I'm actually going to the college you mentioned" works, though it is very wordy. If the question had been "Are you going to Brown the college or Brown the plumbing school?", "I'm going to the college" would make sense as an answer. – Tofystedeth May 3 '16 at 21:12
  • I live in a college town, and if you ask someone here what they do, or what they're doing in town, they're likely to say "I go to the college" or "I went to the college and am back for a visit". The definite article in those examples refers to the college here in town, just like "I bought it at the 7/11" or "at the QuickieMart" or whatever. In my hypothetical conversation above, the refers to the college about which the questioner is speaking. – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 3 '16 at 22:17

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