In the old days, many children did not go to (?) school.

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Senior Member
Hello teachers,

1.In the old days, many children did not go to a school (incorrect)
2.In the old days, many children did not go to school. (correct)

Source: ABC of Common Grammatical Errors by
Nigel D Turton. Part 3 , a/an Use

I want to know that why numbers 1 is incorrect. As you know the word (school) is countable and
uncountable and we can say (a school). Then why number 1 is incorrect?
In my opinion it is incorrect because it’s talking about a fact and when we talk about facts there is
no need to use (a/an). Is my estimation about number 1 right or not? Why it’s (1) incorrect?

Many thanks in advance.
  • sb70012

    Senior Member
    I found the answer:

    Some nouns can refer to a particular place or to a type of place. When they refer to a type of place, they are uncountable and don’t need any determiner: Is he still in hospital?”
    “Young offenders should not be sent to prison.”
    But when they refer to a particular place, they are countable and require a determiner: “We spent the afternoon at the hospital, visiting Alex.” “The prison was designed to hold five hundred inmates.”

    We normally use a determiner if the noun is modified:
    Our children go to school at 8 o’clock.
    Our children go to a very good school.
    He goes to a special school for slow learners.
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