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Preposition: ... <in, at> <the> hospital? [he is in .....]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by A90Six, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. A90Six Senior Member

    England - English.
    I don't have a problem with in hospital and I am surprised that there is an AE alternative (What is it?).
  2. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member


    I was taught that I am in the hospital means that I am there because I work there. And I am in hospital means that I am there because I am ill.

    Another so dearly learnt rule goes to hell...:(

    I feel as if I have never learnt a word of English....
  3. A90Six Senior Member

    England - English.
    In BE the only lines we have are those printed on lined paper, those drawn, those on which trains run, those that always come down in bad weather and make our telephones useless, and those we hang the washing on.:D

    What you call a line in AE is a queue in BE. We are always in a queue (or so it would seem at times) and never on a queue.

    In BE to be in line is to be in agreement with some decision or way of thinking (or at least , to show that you are). To be on line is to have a connection to the internet.:)

    You still haven't told me the AE equivalent to in hospital?
  4. moirag Senior Member

    English, England
    I agree with A90six on all counts. Natasha, you are RIGHT - that is exactly how we use "in hospital" and "in the hospital", and until now I was not aware that not all native speakers make this distinction. Foxfirebrand- was that what you meant about "in hospital"? <..> Sounds like you are confusing NYC with Britain.......they are quite different, and quite far apart, I assure you.
  5. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    In AE, there is no "in hospital". We say, "in the hospital" for everything, although "at the hospital" makes it very clear that you are not a patient there.

    In another thread on WR, not so many days ago, I learned that in BE anyone can "leave the hospital", but only a patient can "leave hospital." I think that's a wonderful distinction. I don't know at what point we dropped it over here, but I'm sorry we did.

    << Please see Preposition hospital in the WR Dictionary >>
  6. Wishfull Senior Member

    Hi, every one, thanks in advance,

    My friend broke his right leg at a soccer match the day before yesterday. I've heard that he took operation yesterday. I'm going to visit him (in hospital/ in the hospital).

    Please somebody tells me which do you choose in this context?
  7. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    I speak BE. Iwould say "in hospital", Wishfull.
  8. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I'm BE too.
    I would say that he is in hospital.
    I would say that I am going to visit him in the hospital.

    Why the difference?
    In the first case, I am not talking about a specific hospital - I don't know which hospital he is in.
    In the second case, I am talking about a specific hospital - it is the hospital that my friend is in.

    (Good to see the old topics come round again :))
  9. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    It's not quite the same for me, Panj. He is himself "in hospital" because he is having an operation. This is so whether or not I know which hospital he is in. If I pay him a visit, I visit him in hospital. I could say "in the hospital", but only if the particular hospital has been identified earlier in the conversation.
  10. Wishfull Senior Member

    Hi, thank you all. :)
    I'll try to specify the context as following;

    My friend broke his right leg at a soccer match 7 days ago. An ambulance brought him to ABC general hospital. I've heard that he took an operation at once. I've heard that he will be discharged in 14 days. So I'm going to visit him in hospital/in the hospital.

    In this context, all you agree with in the hospital, don't you?

    Or is in hospital still OK even in this context?
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2010
  11. ribran

    ribran Senior Member

    Austin, Texas
    English - American
    I heard something a few days ago that I thought the learners here might find interesting. A family member was telling a story in which Woman A thought Woman B, who had gone to the hospital, was feigning illness and said, "She may be at the hospital, but I doubt she's in the hospital." What Woman A was saying is that Woman B, whom she considered a hypochondriac, was probably AT the hospital getting some completely insignificant bump or scratch checked out, but she certainly wasn't there because of a serious illness (IN the hospital).
  12. Fabulist Senior Member

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    There is a difference between being physically located within the hospital building, and having been admitted to the hospital. Admission is an administrative process that gives one the status of a patient and makes the hospital staff responsible for one's medical care, and one's insurers, if any, responsible for payment for that care. In AE, we usually use in the hospital for people who have been admitted. For others, we have to use something else. I'm not sure that there is anything besides at.
  13. scrotgrot Senior Member

    English - English
    Well the consensus seems to be that in the hospital is correct in American English but in British English in hospital would be correct. Since you say soccer you must be learning American English (we call it football).

    In British Englishyou might be sitting in a hospital waiting room waiting for your mother to finish her appointment, and tell your spouse on the phone, "My mother's in hospital. I'm sitting in the hospital waiting for her." However in American English it seems this distinction does not exist.

    A final point: you have an operation, you don't take one.
  14. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)

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