'go to hospital / go to the hospital

  • cropje_jnr

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    The first is somewhat of a set phrase and means much the same as "go to a hospital", in other words, no particular hospital, but the subject requires hospitalisation.

    "Go to the hospital" is sometimes used in the exact same way as the above. It also can mean going to a specific hospital, hence the use of the definite article.

    => I broke my leg playing football and had to go to hospital. I went to the hospital which was closest.


    Senior Member
    English - USA
    This has been discussed many times before. If you put "preposition hospital" in the dictionary search box above, you will get this list of threads. They are very interesting.

    Generally, AE speakers always include the prepositions ("a" or "the"), while other English speakers including BE do not unless they are speaking about a specific hospital (as Cropje explained). I didn't know about that difference before I happened upon this forum. :)


    Senior Member
    As far as I know, if you go to or are in the hospital, that means you have to receive some medical treatment there. However, when you go to (a) hospital, it means that you either work in a hospital or pay a visit there.


    Angel8848, in American English the following would also hold true:
    I work in the hospital.
    I work at a hospital.
    I am going to the hospital to visit my sister.
    I am going to a hospital to have an MRI.