at summer camp/ at a summer camp

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Madrid001

Senior Member
Spanish
Hello!

Can you please tell me if the 'a' has to be omitted with nouns such as 'boarding school' and 'summer camp' or if it would also be acceptable to use it like with most nouns?

For example.

1A. My parents sent me to boarding school/ summer camp.
1B. My parents sent me to a boarding school/ summer camp.

2A. She is at boarding school/summer camp.
2B. She is at a boarding school/summer camp.

I have heard the version without 'a' many times but sometimes, certain structures, sound weird to me if I don't include 'a'. Can you please explain this to me?

Thank you very much!
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Boarding school/ summer camp are both uncountable. They describe the concept of boarding school/ summer camp
    A boarding school/ summer camp are both countable and refer to a real place.
     

    Madrid001

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    So can all of my examples be used or not?

    By the way The Longman Dictionary says 'boarding school' is countable so I really don't understand why you are trying to say by 'the concept of'
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    All your examples are possible.

    Longman Dictionary is wrong. We know boarding school and summer camp can be uncountable because you can use both phrases correctly in the singular without a determiner and we know they can express a concept.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    What did you do this summer? I spent August at summer camp.

    Where
    were you this August? I was at a summer camp in Maine.
     

    Michael_Goldman

    Member
    Chinese
    What did you do this summer? I spent August at summer camp.

    Where were you this August? I was at a summer camp in Maine.
    Will I be correct if I say that we say "at camp" when we imply a programme (it is similar to "to study at school"), and "at a camp" when a place (it is similar to "to visit a friend at a school")?

    Thanks.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Your definition ("imply a programme") is so vague it could mean anything. What does it mean? Give an example please.
     

    Michael_Goldman

    Member
    Chinese
    Your definition ("imply a programme") is so vague it could mean anything. What does it mean? Give an example please.
    Summer programme for children to occupy them with activities such as roller skiing, roller skating, running marathons, taking parts in various contests, swimming and so on and so forth.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    There are thousands of different summer camps in the U.S. that have various activities for the campers. Each one is a summer camp.

    If your child is at any one of these places, you can say they are "at summer camp".

    The first use is a reference to a specific set of buildings with specific employees at a specific place that offers specific activities.

    The second is a reference to the concept of any place where children go during the summer that they stay a number of days, spend their time with other children, and do activities that are supposed to enrich their intellectual, educational, athletic, and/or social lives. (And sometimes their health, as well, since some camps are specifically for kids with asthma, diabetes, or other diseases.)

    They wouldn't be called/classified a summer camp if they didn't offer a structured set of activities guided by adults.
     
    Last edited:

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    A parent visiting their child might say, "I'm visiting my son at summer camp tomorrow."

    It's obviously a reference to the specific camp he is attending.
     

    Michael_Goldman

    Member
    Chinese
    The first use is a reference to a specific set of buildings with specific employees at a specific place that offers specific activities.

    The second is a reference to the concept of any place where children go during the summer that they stay a number of days, spend their time with other children, and do activities that are supposed to enrich their intellectual, educational, athletic, and/or social lives. (And sometimes their health, as well, since some camps are specifically for kids with asthma, diabetes, or other diseases.)
    Do you mean "at summer camp" by saying "The first use..." and "at a summer camp" by saying "The second use..."? Thanks.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Do you mean "at summer camp" by saying "The first use..." and "at a summer camp" by saying "The second use..."? Thanks.
    The opposite.

    There are thousands of different summer camps in the U.S. that have various activities for the campers. (First) Each one is a summer camp.

    If your child is at any one of these places, you can say (Second) they are "at summer camp".
     
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