|'The', 'a' and 'an'|
Stastny from The Czech Republic asks:
I quite often heard from native speakers this phrase: ‘I'm going to the pub? The person didn't mean any particular pub, he was just saying that he was going for a drink.
Why do we say: the pub? I don't know whether we can say a pub in that phrase, but it doesn't sound correct to me. Thank you for your help in advance.
You are quite right, Lubos. We would rarely, if ever, say: ‘I'm going to a pub? It would be too vague.
somebody asks: ‘Shall we go to the pub?? even if the particular
pub has not been formally identified yet, he has in mind which one
they will probably go to, or, if not, then a quintessential pub.
Similar considerations apply to the following examples:
is often used in this way with words that refer to aspects of our
physical environment of which there is only one or with which everybody
is familiar. Examples would be: the sun, the moon, the
stars, the earth, the world, the rain, the
wind, the Government, the police. Study these examples
zero article v the
Here, the first statement is a general one: ‘people? ‘towns?and ‘dogs? generally, any towns, any dogs, so no article is needed.
In the second statement, the person speaking has particular children and particular dogs in mind, so uses the. Similar considerations apply to the following examples: