John’s English Blog

I’m John, an English language teacher. Welcome to my blog.

Definite and indefinite articles

Articles, using "the", places, institutions, media and transport.


This is the tenth in a series of blog posts about articles. I recommend you read the previous blog posts in this series before you read this one. In the previous article we looked at some interesting cases using the. In this blog post we’ll look at using the with places, institutions, media and transport.

places and institutions

We use the to talk about a place. We leave out the to talk about an institution.

  • I studied Natural Sciences and Land Economy at university.
    The institution.
  • Let’s meet at 8 o’clock at the university.
    The place.
  • She fell down the stairs and broke her leg. Now, she’s in hospital.
    A patient, institution.
  • She’s gone to the hospital to visit her aunt.
    A visitor, place.
  • He’s in prison for crimes against grammar.
    A prisoner, institution.
  • He’s at the prison until his shift finishes.
    A guard, place.
  • She’s in class at the moment.
    The event.
  • Half the class were boys and half were girls.
    The group.
  • The party was in the house as it was too cold in the garden.
  • I’m not coming out, I’m staying at home with a book and a cup of cocoa.
    Where I live, institution.

media and devices

We use the and a/an to talk about devices or messages. We leave out the and a/an to talk about media.

  • The tower told the pilot by radio that he would have to wait.
  • The pilot called the tower on the radio to report a problem. Specific device.
  • Chris Moyles is a DJ who works in radio.
  • The radio was broken; it would only play the shipping forecast.
    Specific device.
  • Rowan Atkinson is a fabulous comedian who often appears on TV.
  • I heard about the disaster on the TV.
    Specific device.
  • I used to watch Danger Mouse on TV.
  • I’ll send you the details by email.
  • OK, I’ll read the email now.

Note: media is plural, medium is singular.

transport and vehicles

We use the and a/an to talk about a vehicle. We leave out the and a/an to talk about means of transport.

  • Are you coming by car?
    Means of transport.
  • They arrived in an old car.
  • They travel by train.
    Means of transport.
  • The train pulled in to the station.
  • It’s faster by bike.
    Means of transport.
  • She locked the bike to a lamppost.


Back to the article

  1. Many cultures have communicated by smoke signals.
  2. the college was cold and damp.
  3. Do you like travelling by plane?
  4. Do you send invoices by post or by email?
  5. On Sundays, some people go to church.
  6. I often leave umbrellas on the train.
  7. Did you come on foot?
  8. The Queen launched the ship.
  9. Turn left at the church!
  10. I go to the cinema on Wednesday, because it’s cheaper.
  11. I’m staying late at the office.
  12. The crossing to France by ferry takes about 1 12 hours.
  13. Computer can communicate by pigeon.
  14. Sam Mendes is a famous director, works in cinema.
  15. What are you learning in school?
  16. the email from my colleague wasn’t very polite.
  17. Did you study at university?
  18. the plane took off on time.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. If you have any comments, questions or corrections please write them below.

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