Wednesday, April 29, 2009

When To Use "THE"?

This is taken from;

Your Questions Answered: By FADZILLAH AMIN

MICHAEL Swan’s grammar book says: Most names of buildings use “the”, but place-name + Cathedral, University, School — “the” is not used. e.g. Exeter Cathedral and NOT the Exeter Cathedral

How about for “Church” since “Cathedral” is almost similar to “Church”?

Like the famous St Anne’s Church in Bukit Mertajam, is it “the St Anne’s Church” or just “St Anne’s Church”?

For “University”, it’s Adelaide University (without “the”), but how about Universiti Sains Malaysia?

Does the above rule apply to “School” as well?

We have two famous schools in Bukit Mertajam — do we use “the” for Jit Sin High School and BM High School? BM stands for the town Bukit Mertajam, so is there a difference?

– More Confused

A church doesn’t usually have a place name before it, but a saint’s name. If the name of the church begins with a saint’s name, as in St Anne’s Church in Bukit Mertajam, or St Mary’s Church in Kuala Lumpur, we don’t use “the” before it. But if the name of the church begins with “church of ...” as in The Church of St. Martin’s in the Fields in London or The Church of the Holy Cross in Avening, Gloucestershire, England, we put “the” before the name of the church.

Likewise, if a cathedral’s name begins not with a place name or a saint’s name, but with “cathedral of ...”, we put “the” before it, as in The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, Singapore or the Cathedral of The Isles in Millport, Scotland.

The official name of Adelaide University is actually The University of Adelaide.


But Monash University does not have “the” before its name, presumably because Monash is the name of a person — Sir John Monash.


Universiti Sains Malaysia is a name in Bahasa Malaysia, and the rules about “the” in English don’t apply to its name.

Jit Sin High School should not have “the” before it. I don’t know if “Jit Sin” is a person’s name, but whether it is or not, the words are not English and there shouldn’t be “the” before the name of the school.

Finally, Bukit Mertajam High School should not have “the” before it, just like Penang Free School.

‘In school’ or ‘in the school’?

WHEN do we use “in church” and “in the church”, “in school” and “in the school”, “in class” and “in the class”?

– Ms Lee, Kedah

We use “in the church/school/class” when we are referring to a specific church, school or class, or one that has been mentioned before, e.g.

“There are a number of fine stained glass windows in the church, all erected in the first forty years of its life.” (referring to St Augustin’s Church, Bournemouth, UK)


“This was the first time he set foot in the school his grandchildren were attending.”

“There are 30 children in the class she was assigned to teach.”

We use “in church” to mean attending a Christian religious service in a church, e.g.

“See you in church on Sunday!”


When a child is in his school building, either attending classes or taking part in school activities, he is said to be “in school”, e.g. “Ahmad has to be in school from 7.20am to 1.15pm.”

When children and their teacher are in a classroom during a lesson, they are said to be “in class”, e.g. “The teacher expects her pupils to pay full attention to her in class.”

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